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Europe's footballing 40-somethings

Published: Tuesday 24 January 2012, 9.48CET
At 41, David Weir has negotiated his release by Rangers FC because he still wants to play; UEFA.com hails the select band of 40-something outfield players who are refusing to go quietly.
Europe's footballing 40-somethings
David Weir is still eager to play at 41 ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 24 January 2012, 9.48CET

Europe's footballing 40-somethings

At 41, David Weir has negotiated his release by Rangers FC because he still wants to play; UEFA.com hails the select band of 40-something outfield players who are refusing to go quietly.

At 41, defender David Weir is still eager to play, negotiating his release from Rangers FC last week in a bid to get more first-team football.

The only difference is that when I was younger I would feel the aches and pains on Sunday – now I feel them on Monday as well
Andy Legg
You miss being a footballer once you quit, so I'm trying to make it last
Patrik Rosengren
All the credit goes to my mum and dad who put some healthy genes into me
Vazha Tarkhnishvili

The former Everton FC player, capped 69 times by Scotland before announcing his international retirement, has won titles in his last three seasons at Ibrox, but is not about to retire quietly. "I've not got anything lined up in terms of where I will be going, but, even now, I still want to play," he said.

UEFA.com salutes the 40-something outfield players still holding back the years across Europe.

Andy Legg (Llanelli AFC)
Maybe it is the health scare he endured that persuades Andy Legg to keep going in his 46th year, successfully holding back Father Time while also serving as an inspiration to fellow cancer-sufferers. The Llanelli player-manager has made three appearances for the Welsh side from the bench this season, with the one-time Swansea City FC man explaining: "I'm fortunate that I've always been pretty fit. The only difference is that when I was younger I would feel the aches and pains on Sunday – now I feel them on Monday as well." Legg won six Welsh caps as a versatile defender/midfielder but had to give up the game for a time after being diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer in 2005.

Jari Litmanen (HJK Helsinki)
In October 2011, at the age of 40, Jari Litmanen finally won his first Finnish title, a full 19 years after he first left his home country for a glittering career with AFC Ajax, FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC. Capped 137 times, the attacker will turn 41 in February and – as he looks to recover from a minor knee operation – is yet to decide whether he will continue playing in 2012. "It will take four to six weeks to recover, so I will have a little break," he said. "Whatever happens, I won't make any decisions about my future until the spring." Litmanen's 40-year-old former Finland team-mate Mika Nurmela, meanwhile, is still going strong as a midfielder at second-tier AC Oulu.

Jens Erik Rasmussen (07 Vestur)
Asked whether he was starting to feel his age on the pitch, the 43-year-old Rasmussen said: "When you are older than several of your team-mates' fathers, that is inevitable." The forward and midfielder, capped 25 times, has been playing for 26 years, and while 07 Vestur were relegated in 2011, the Faroese league may not have seen the last of the skilful Rasmussen – who played abroad with AC Horsens and Esbjerg fB in Denmark and Icelandic side Leiftur. "Because I'm quite slight, it is probably easier for me to keep in shape than for someone who is big and strong," he noted.

Patrik Rosengren (Mjällby AIF)
When Rosengren signed a year's extension in December, Mjällby's website wrote that "all fans can now celebrate Christmas in peace". The talismanic central defender, nicknamed 'Bagarn' (the baker), turns 41 this summer but is still going strong. The Swedish league's oldest player won the league and cup during seven seasons at Kalmar FF and helped Mjällby gain instant promotion to the top flight when he returned to his first club in 2009. "When I moved back home from Kalmar I signed up for just one year," Rosengren said. "But it's gone well so I've kept signing on for one more year at a time. You miss being a footballer once you quit, so I'm trying to make it last."

Vazha Tarkhnishvili (FC Sheriff)
Having played 500 matches for the Tiraspol side since 1999, the Georgian defender has won ten league titles with Sheriff and is still leading by example at 40. "All the credit goes to my mum and dad who put some healthy genes into me," he smiled when asked to reveal the secret of his longevity. Tarkhnishvili is hoping to end his career on a high with a domestic double this season, and told UEFA.com: "What next? I hope to stay with the club that has become my home and be useful to Sheriff for many years to come. I cannot do anything but play football. I dedicated most of my life to it and so I plan to keep going on and on with this divine game."

Colm Tresson (Bray Wanderers FC)
Tresson's team-mates celebrated with youthful delight when the 40-year-old scored in Bray's 6-0 defeat of Galway United FC at the end of the 2011 season. The defender made his senior debut for Bray in the 1990/91 season and retired at the end of 2010, but was coaxed back by manager Pat Devlin. "Colm was a touch of class who could definitely have played at a higher level," said Devlin of Tresson, who spent most of his 22-season career with Bray, bar spells at Drogheda United FC and Portadown FC. The first 40-something to play outfield in Ireland's top flight since Steve Archibald – who briefly represented Home Farm Everton FC in 1996/97 at 42 – Tresson has once more announced his retirement, but we have heard that one before.

Last updated: 24/01/12 15.52CET

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