Picture : Salvador Reyes (Mexico) , Stanley Matthews (England), George Weah (Liberia)
OLDEST PLAYERS IN THE HISTORY - MIURA LEADS THE RANKING
We publish for the first time the world ranking for oldest footballers of all times. The players who featured in top-level games at the age of 45 years or older are listed in the table. Only players from 100 strongest national leagues (top divisions) are considered. Although, for those from leagues below 100, we made exclusions if they appeared at appropriate age in international games.
There is another restriction: a player is included in the ranking only in the case if he was really active at the match-day. This means that if a player ended his career and took part in a game several years later just for fun, tribute or emergency, he is not ranked. However, as these cases still are interesting, they are also included in the general table (beyond the ranking).
For example, we can’t put in ranking a Mexican Salvador Reyes who appeared in 2008 in the game of Mexican Primera División at the age of 71 as part of a tribute organized by the club Chivas Guadalajara in his honor. Reyes stayed symbolic 50 seconds on the pitch.
Similarly, the Liberian President George Weah who suddenly appeared in the friendly vs Nigeria in 2018 at the age of 51, many years after finishing career, is also out of ranking.
Another “artificial” case regards to Harry Lowe, a coach of Real Sociedad in 1935 (more accurately, the club was temporarily renamed to Donostia at that time). Real Sociedad went for the game vs Valencia with only 11 men (the substitutes were not allowed). One of them got injured just before the game, so 48-years old Lowe forcedly joined the lineup. His team lost 1:7 but Lowe made an assist for the only goal of the Basque side.
Now about the ranking itself. It was topped since 1965 by famous Stanley Matthews who was a player of Stoke City until 50 and has played the last game in English league 5 days after celebrating 50th anniversary.
Matthews hold the world record during 53 years, until 6 June 2018 when Kazuyosi Miura appeared in the game of Emperor’s Cup Yokohama FC - Kamatamare Sanuki (2:0) at the age of 51 years 100 days.
Next, Miura appeared for Yokohama few times more and extended the world record to the current state of 54 years 12 days. Being still an active player, he can advance it more.
At the moment, the ranking contains 16 names. 7 of them are the players from small Caribbean countries who featured for their national teams: to use the old guys of 45+ years at international level is common practice for this region.
The next player who has realistic chance to join the ranking is Georgi Petkov, the second goalkeeper of Slavia Sofia. He has just turned 45 on 14 March.
|WORLD's ALL-TIME RANKING OF OLDEST PLAYERS|
|Player||Pos.||Age||Country||Team||Game Date||Rival (score)||Tourn.||Min.|
|Salvador Reyes||F||71-121||Mexico||Guadalajara||19/01/2008||Pumas UNAM (3:0)||NL||1|
|1||Kazuyoshi Miura||F||54-012||Japan||Yokohama||10/03/2021||Urawa Reds (0:2)||NL||1|
|George Weah||F||51-345||Liberia||NT||11/09/2018||Nigeria (1:2)||Fr||78|
|2||Stanley Matthews||F||50-005||England||Stoke City||06/02/1965||Fulham (3:1)||NL||90|
|3||Billy Meredith||F||49-245||Wales||Manchester City||29/03/1924||Newcastle (1:2)||NC||90|
|Giorgos Koudas||M||48-301||Greece||NT||20/09/1995||Yugoslavia (0:2)||Fr||24|
|James Debbah||F||48-271||Liberia||NT||11/09/2018||Nigeria (1:2)||Fr||57|
|Harry Lowe||D||48-226||England||Real Sociedad||24/03/1935||Valencia (1:7)||NL||90|
|4||Dady Aristide||F||48-129||Turks & Caicos||NT||13/10/2018||Guyana (0:8)||CNL||72|
|5||Antony de Ávila||F||46-315||Colombia||América Cali||01/11/2009||Quindío (1:2)||NL||45|
|6||McDonald Taylor Sr.||D||46-217||US Virgin Islands||NT||31/03/2004||St Kitts & Nevis (0:7)||WCQ||90|
|7||Essam El Hadary||G||46-038||Egypt||Nogoom||22/02/2019||El Masry (0:1)||NL||74|
|8||Kenny Dyer||M||46-033||Montserrat||NT||10/10/2010||St Kitts & Nevis (0:4)||CCF||90|
|9||Wilhelm Hahnemann||F||45-358||Austria||Wacker Wien||06/04/1960||Neufeld (4:3)||NC||90|
|10||Christopher Bryan||D||45-293||Turks & Caicos||NT||06/09/2006||Bahamas (2:3)||CCQ||90|
|11||Desire Butler||G||45-248||British Virgin Islands||NT||09/09/2012||Montserrat (0:7)||CCQ||90|
|12||Kim Byung-ji||G||45-189||South Korea||Jeonnam Dragons||14/10/2015||Incheon United (0:2)||NC||120|
|13||James Slattery||M||45-150||Turks & Caicos||NT||21/02/2004||Haiti (0:2)||WCQ||10|
|14||Euclid Bertrand||D||45-118||Dominica||NT||18/11/2019||St Vincent & Grenadines (1:0)||CNL||7|
|15||César Cueto||M||45-079||Perú||NT||24/08/1997||Colombia (2:1)||Fr||?|
|16||Masashi Nakayama||F||45-062||Japan||Consadole Sapporo||24/11/2012||Yokohama F. Marinos (0:2)||NL||1|
|Vasilis Hatzipanagis||M||45-049||Greece||NT||14/12/1999||Ghana (1:1)||Fr||20|
NT – National Team
NL – National League (only top divisions)
NC – National Cups
Fr – Friendly
WCQ – World Cup Qualification
CNL – Caribbean Nation League
CCQ – Caribbean Cup Qualification
CCF – Caribbean Cup Finals