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World Football's 11 Best Players over the Age of 35

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2013

World Football's 11 Best Players over the Age of 35

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    Not many footballers have professional careers that flourish into their late 30s.

    Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule, notably Teddy Sheringham and many star goalkeepers

    Today, there are even more examples of longevity, including a few who have even made it past 40 years old.

    So who are the best of these relative geriatrics?

    Here are today's 11 best footballers over the age of 35.

Honorable Mention

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    Just a few months ago, Brad Friedel definitely would have been high on this list.

    The American goalkeeper had, at the age of 41, set records for the most consecutive Premier League starts and the oldest player in a Premier League match.

    More importantly, he was performing at a high level for Tottenham and coming off a season where he helped them to fourth in the league.

    However, Friedel has now been replaced by French captain Hugo Lloris, a man who is 15 years his junior.

    With Brad failing to get a match in quite a bit of time, it's hard to include him on any list of best players.

11. Mark Schwarzer

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    Mark Schwarzer continues to feature as the first-choice keeper at Fulham, where he has started every Premier League match this season.

    Schwarzer is also a stalwart for the Australian national team, where he continues to start regularly.

    The 40-year-old has made it clear that he wants to play with the Socceroos in the 2014 World Cup, at which point he will be 41.

10. Anders Svensson

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    Anders Svensson might not be the most household name, but the midfielder continues to captain Elfsborg in the Swedish top tier.

    In 2012, he led Elfsborg to the Allsvenskan title, booking their second-ever trip to the Champions League for next season.

    What's more, Svensson has featured for Sweden's national team for the past 14 years and even appeared in every one of the nation's matches at Euro 2012.

    Sounds like a pretty good track record for a 36-year-old.

9. Mario Yepes

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    At 37, Mario Yepes is still going strong for AC Milan.

    While he isn't the first-choice centre-back for the Rossoneri (Philippe Mexes and Daniele Bonera are the starters), Yepes has established himself as a go-to player in their defense and has started 12 matches so far this season.

    Even more impressively, Yepes continues to captain Colombia as the team continues on a direct path to the 2014 World Cup.

8. Clarence Seedorf

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    Clarence Seedorf has had one incredible career.

    The Dutch midfielder has played for Ajax, Real Madrid, Inter and AC Milan, winning the Champions League with all but Inter.

    Incredibly, Seedorf was able to be a main contributor at Milan for 10 years and past his 36th birthday.

    Last summer, he moved to Brazilian club Botafogo, where he continues to play at a high level in Serie A.

7. David Beckham

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    Kind of fitting that David Beckham would be No. 7 on this list, right?

    Becks is a fairly high-profile figure (is that an understatement?), but he continues to play at a high level.

    His right foot, knowledge on the pitch and top-flight experience have made him a very sought-after commodity at the age of 37.

    No matter where David ends up next season, there's little doubt he will be able to contribute to his new club's cause.

6. Alessandro Nesta

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    Throughout his 19-year Serie A career, Alessandro Nesta proved at both Lazio and AC Milan that he was one of the best centre-backs at the world.

    As captain of the Italian national team, Nesta furthered his legend by helping the Azzurri to the World Cup title in 2006 (though he missed much of the tournament with an injury).

    It is his endurance that gets Nesta on this list, though.

    Even as younger players came in, Alessandro remained a staple of the Rossoneri defense for years.

    Finally, Nesta left Serie A this past summer and moved to the Montreal Impact of the MLS.

    It's likely that Nesta will retire sooner rather than later, but his past few seasons in Milan suggest that he is still one fine defender.

5. Paul Scholes

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    When Paul Scholes retired from football in 2011 at the age of 37, he ended what was already an incredible career of longevity.

    When he came back to Manchester United last year, Scholes picked right up where he left off.

    Even though he doesn't play that much any more, the midfielder is still one of the most creative players in the Premier League.

    Now if only he could learn to tackle.

4. Raul

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    Raul's career statistics are astounding, as he is Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and most capped player and Spain's second top scorer and fifth-most capped player.

    However, what might be even more impressive is his durability, as Raul found a reawakening at Schalke. In 98 appearances over two seasons for the German club, Raul netted 40 times, a fairly astounding tally for a 35-year-old.

    Last summer, Raul moved to Qatari club Al Sadd, where he is vice captain. As of now, the club sits in the top of their league.

3. Francesco Totti

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    Francesco Totti and AS Roma have become almost synonymous over the past 20 years.

    The Italian has been a loyal servant to his home-town club since 1993, has captained the club since 1998 and has led the club to awesome heights.

    Over the past few seasons, the 36-year-old's goal scoring has fallen off a bit, but he continues to be an inspirational leader and creative source for Roma match in and match out.

2. Ryan Giggs

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    Ryan Giggs' longevity is well documented.

    At 39 years of age, the Welshman has played in every Premier League season and scored in every one except for the current one (which he has time to change).

    Obviously, the most amazing thing about Giggs is his consistency. Ryan continues to make regular appearances with Manchester United and find ways to contribute to the club.

    He even made a big contribution to Team Great Britain at the Olympics, appearing in every match and captaining the side.

1. Javier Zanetti

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    Javier Zanetti has redefined football longevity throughout his illustrious career.

    The Argentinean captained Inter Milan to the Champions League title at the age of 36 just under three years ago.

    Now at 39, Zanetti is still captaining and appearing in every match for Inter and still going strong for Argentina.

    Incredibly, he is the most capped player of all time for both his club and country, and all while playing either in midfield or at full-back.

    For his ridiculous consistency and leadership, Javier Zanetti is currently the best footballer over the age of 35.

     

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