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Top 5 World Football Players over 35 Years Old

Sean MartinContributor IJanuary 16, 2017

Top 5 World Football Players over 35 Years Old

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    Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

    With the onus often being on praising the up-and-coming young stars of the game, the elder statesmen still plying their trade at a consistently high level of performance tend to get overlooked.

    It was, admittedly, difficult to whittle the initial list of players over 35 down to just five players, so as a rule, the position of goalkeeper has been omitted.

    There are, then, a few honourable mentions in order.

    First, Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon remains a key player for club and country. Despite the odd misjudgment, such as with Giuseppe Rossi's second strike two weeks ago, the 35-year-old is still capable of winning matches with vital saves.

    While Inter legend Javier Zanetti will undoubtedly go down as one of the game's all-time great full-backs, he misses out due to the fact he has been out injured since rupturing his Achilles tendon in April. Despite this, the 40-year-old is poised to make a comeback later this month.

    Likewise, Barcelona stalwart Carles Puyol misses out due to his injury troubles. The 35-year-old has only recently returned to the side, but has already added the solidity they lack whenever he is out.

    39-year-old Ryan Giggs fails to make the list because of lack of playing time, while 37-year-old journeyman striker Sebastien Abreu continues to score goals on a semi-regular basis for current club Rosario Central, but he misses out due to the form of others. Likewise, Miroslav Klose would be shoe-in were it based on last season's form, and while he is undoubtedly still massively important for Lazio, he doesn't quite make the list.

    Evergreen Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni deserves a mention, simply because he is one of the greats of the game. To still be playing at 40 is impressive. To do it while scoring over 100 career goals, despite playing in a position usually contained in an 18-yard box, will generally create a legend. No pressure, Joe Hart.

    Anyway, on to the current top five...

     

     

5: Marco Di Vaio (37, Montreal Impact)

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    Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images

    Di Vaio played for 10 clubs before moving to Canada to link up with former Italy international Matteo Ferrari at Montreal Impact. 

    Since making the move east, Di Vaio has recaptured the goalscoring touch he showed during his best days playing with Bologna and Parma, netting 27 goals in 56 matches.

    This year the 37-year-old enjoyed a fantastic run of form, getting himself on the score sheet 22 times in his 40 games, including this wonderful strike against Chicago Fire in August.

4: Antonio Di Natale (36, Udinese)

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    Dino Panato/Getty Images

    The Udinese talisman has been at the forefront of the clubs fortunes for almost 10 years now, and that shows no sign of changing.

    An extraordinarily late bloomer, Di Natale didn't record over 20 goals in a season until he was 32. Since that season, when he scored 29 in 38 games, he has consistently hit the net.

    His 117 goals in 171 games over the past four-and-a-bit seasons—and for a somewhat "unfashionable" team no less—ands him the tag of one of the games greats.

    The 36-year-old has flirted with retirement a couple of times in the past few years, but when he is still the key man for Udinese (he has six goals from 14 games this season), why stop?

3: Frank Lampard (35, Chelsea)

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    In May, Lampard became the player with the most goals ever for Chelsea. Yet still, rumours circulated he would be leaving.

    Five days later, the midfielder signed a one-year contract extension, much to the delight of incoming, and returning, manager Jose Mourinho, Lampard himself and, of course, the Chelsea fans.

    Fast forward almost six months, and the 35-year-old is still a key cog in Mourinho's squad, albeit from a progressively deeper position than in his heyday. 

    Still, from that deeper-lying midfield position Lampard has managed two goals and two assists in his 13 games so far. 

     

2: Luca Toni (36, Verona)

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    Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

    Luca Toni—renaissance man. 

    The big striker has enjoyed a fruitful start to the season with Verona, helping himself to four goals and three assists in his eight Serie A matches, reminding everyone how consistent a player he was for the bulk of the 2000s in the process. 

    From an opening game brace to defeat Milan in September, to his midweek goal against Sampdoria to help Hellas complete five consecutive home victories (only Roma and Juventus can match that record so far), Toni has used every bit of his considerable experience and strength.

     

1: Francesco Totti (37, Roma)

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Who else could it be?

    The legend that is Francesco Totti just keeps on enduring. Three goals and six assists in only eight Serie A matches sees the man they call simply "il Capitano" top not only this list, but the thoughts of Italy coach Cesare Prandelli.

    He may be out injured at the time of writing, but his form has been scintillating from the first match this campaign. Given he has made it his aim to surpass Silvio Piola's all-time Serie A goalscoring record of 274 before he retires (he currently has 230), don't be surprised if Totti is firing on all cylinders again on his return.

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