Picture : Salvador Reyes (Mexico) , Stanley Matthews (England), George Weah (Liberia)


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. 

 PlayerPos.AgeCountryTeamGame DateRival (score)Tourn.Min.
 Salvador Reyes F71-121MexicoGuadalajara19/01/2008Pumas UNAM (3:0)NL1
1Kazuyoshi Miura F54-012JapanYokohama10/03/2021Urawa Reds (0:2)NL1
 George WeahF51-345LiberiaNT11/09/2018Nigeria (1:2)Fr78
2Stanley MatthewsF50-005EnglandStoke City06/02/1965Fulham (3:1)NL90
3Billy MeredithF49-245WalesManchester City29/03/1924Newcastle (1:2)NC90
 Giorgos KoudasM48-301    GreeceNT20/09/1995Yugoslavia (0:2)Fr24
 James DebbahF48-271LiberiaNT11/09/2018Nigeria (1:2)Fr57
 Harry LoweD48-226EnglandReal Sociedad24/03/1935Valencia (1:7)NL90
4Dady AristideF48-129Turks & CaicosNT13/10/2018Guyana (0:8)CNL72
5Antony de ÁvilaF46-315ColombiaAmérica Cali01/11/2009Quindío (1:2)NL45
6McDonald Taylor Sr.D46-217US Virgin Islands NT31/03/2004St Kitts & Nevis (0:7)WCQ90
7Essam El HadaryG46-038EgyptNogoom22/02/2019El Masry (0:1)NL74
8Kenny DyerM46-033Montserrat NT10/10/2010St Kitts & Nevis (0:4)CCF90
9Wilhelm HahnemannF45-358AustriaWacker Wien 06/04/1960Neufeld (4:3)NC90
10Christopher BryanD45-293Turks & Caicos    NT06/09/2006Bahamas (2:3)CCQ90
11Desire ButlerG45-248British Virgin IslandsNT09/09/2012Montserrat (0:7)CCQ90
12Kim Byung-jiG45-189South KoreaJeonnam Dragons14/10/2015Incheon United (0:2)NC120
13James Slattery M45-150Turks & CaicosNT21/02/2004Haiti (0:2)WCQ10
14Euclid BertrandD45-118DominicaNT18/11/2019St Vincent & Grenadines (1:0)CNL7
15César CuetoM45-079PerúNT24/08/1997Colombia (2:1)Fr?
16Masashi Nakayama F45-062JapanConsadole Sapporo 24/11/2012Yokohama F. Marinos  (0:2)NL1
 Vasilis HatzipanagisM45-049GreeceNT14/12/1999Ghana (1:1)Fr20

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