Like a fine wine: Footballers who have played on into their golden years

After Zlatan claims he could play to 50, who are the other players turning back the years?

Like a fine wine: Footballers who have played on into their golden years

Picture by Richard Sellers EMPICS Sport

After another clinical performance on the weekend, Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved that he still has the physical ability to cut it in the Premier League as he scored two great goals to beat West Bromwich Albion. 

However, after the game, the Swedish international stated that while the media might be obsessing over his age and suggesting that the end of his playing days is on the horizon, we might actually only be about half way through the career of the great Zlatan. 

"I feel happy, I feel good," Ibrahimovic said, echoing the sentiment behind the well-known 'you're only as old as you feel' saying.

"Even if I’m 35, in my mind I’m 20," Ibrahimovic added. "I think I could play also at 50, but it won’t be down to me. The older I get, the better I get, like red wine! You like red wine? I’m a perfect example of that. The older I get, the better I play."

Could the man known simply as Zlatan really still be playing in 15 years? Here are a few players who have approached that milestone and, perhaps like the wine that the Swede mentioned, might have been at their finest vintage in the twilight of their careers. 

Faryd Mondragon

His lengthy career, which eventually spanned 700 appearances, included spells at clubs in Germany, Spain, France and the United States, before eventually finishing at Deportivo Cali in his native Colombia.

The goalkeeper made history at the World Cup in 2014 when he formed part of his national team's squad at the age of 43, and he was given a huge ovation when he entered the pitch against Japan.

After Colombia were knocked out of the tournament, Mondragon confirmed that he would be calling time on his illustrious career, and thanked the fans in a tearful interview after the game, stating "this is for the whole country."

Teddy Sheringham

Although he claims that his diet was not that great during his playing days, Sheringham continually kept Father Time at bay throughout his lengthy career. 

He was best known for his spells at Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, where he played a pivotal role on "that night in Barcelona." 

Image: ©INPHO/Allsport

Although he returned to Spurs from United after that, he also had time left in his career to tog out for West Ham United and Portsmouth, before dropping down the divisons and joining Colchester, where he finally hung up his boots in 2008 at the age of 42.

He registered himself as a player when he took over as manager at Stevenage at 49-years-old, but he never made an appearance for the club during his spell in charge. 

Roberto Miguel Acuña Cabello

The former Paraguayan player earned 100 international caps across 18 years in his time as a professional footballer, leaving him second on the list of all-time appearances for his country.

Born in Argentina, 'El Toro' - as he is known - played for some of the country's biggest clubs in Boca Juniors and Independiente, whilst also spending some time in Spain at Real Zaragoza and Deportivo la Coruña. 

After all that time traveling the globe, he has returned home to Paraguay where he still plays for Deportivo Recoleta at the age of 44. 

Raimond van der Gouw

Best known for his long spell as a back up at Manchester United, the Dutch 'keeper only made the move to the Premier League when he was already in his 30s. 

Image: Fabian Barthez and Raymond Van Der Gouw of Manchester United ©INPHO/Allsport

He made less than 40 appearances for the Manchester club in his six year spell there, but still became somewhat of a cult hero before returning home to try and help AGOVV Apeldoorn gain promotion to the top flight. Despite it coming late in his career, it was no token gesture as he made 100 appearances and even scored the only goal of his time as a professional for them - with a penalty in his last ever game.

Rivaldo

The Brazilian star might be best remembered by some for his play-acting at the 2002 World Cup, but he had a deep, lasting love of football that pushed him to keep playing well after many of his contemporaries had retired.

The Brazilian superstar was undoubtedly one of the greatest players on the planet during his career, signing for both Milan and Barcelona, where he will be forever remembered for a stunning goal that sealed the title against Valencia. 

His club career took him around Europe, as well as to Uzbekistan and Angola, before he eventually returned to his home country of Brazil and continued to play. 

Finally, he called time on his career with Mogi Mirim, one of the first clubs he had ever played for on his way up through the ranks, at the age of 43. 

Rogerio Ceni

There is little doubt that Ceni was an exceptional goalkeeper, in more ways than one. A one club man, he spent his entire senior career with São Paulo, winning three league titles and two Copa Libertadores trophies.

Aside from that, he was a free-kick specialist, and rattled in over 100 goals whilst also keeping clean sheets at the other end of the pitch. 

He eventually hung up his boots (and gloves) in 2015 at the age of 42. 

Kazuyoshi Miura

The former Japanese international is (as far as we know) the oldest player still playing professionally in the world at 49-years-old, and is still scoring goals too.  

He has broken his own record as the oldest goalscorer a number of times with his club Yokohama F.C. in the J-League's second tier, where his stay has already lasted over a decade.

The only thing left for Miura to tick off his list as a pro is an appearance for the national side at the World Cup. He has earned 89 caps for Japan, but was part of the team that narrowly missed out on qualification in 1994, and he was dropped from the squad in 1998.

Can he hold out until 2018 and keep the dream alive?

Dave Beasant 

If Zlatan has a target to aim for, then he perhaps should look to Dave Beasant. Although he only played twice for England, he had an incredible career in which he made over 100 appearances for both Nottingham Forest and Chelsea. 

He will be best remembered for his 340 appearances with Wimbledon however, where he was an integral part of the team that lifted the FA Cup in 1988, saving a penalty from John Aldridge in the final.

Image: ©INPHO

Beasant more or less finished his playing career with Brighton & Hove Albion in 2003, but he has been tempted to put his gloves on again in the time since, most recently with Stevenage in 2015, when he was named as a substitute for a game against Carlisle at the age of 55-years-old.