UEFA.com marks the 40th birthday of Manchester United FC midfielder Ryan Giggs by taking a whistlestop tour of those 40-something outfield players still plying their trade in Europe's top flights.
Tibor Dombi (Debreceni VSC)
Debrecen's record appearance maker, former Hungary midfielder Dombi turned 40 less than three weeks ago. The winger has played over 450 times in three stints with Debrecen, punctuated by spells at Eintracht Frankfurt and FC Utrecht. His last international outing came in June 2001. "I don't have grand aims in mind; I just like to live positively and happily every day," he said. "I was never able to approach matches in a truly relaxed manner and I still get healthy nerves when I'm on the touchline waiting for the coach to bring me on."
Ryan Giggs (Manchester United FC)
A phenomenon. To be playing top-level football going into his fifth decade is impressive enough; to be doing so as an integral player of a club as illustrious as United is scarcely credible. Giggs has transformed himself from rampaging winger to elegant midfielder in order to prolong a career that spans nearly 23 years and more than 1,000 professional games – the former Welsh international having claimed 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two UEFA Champions League crowns in that time. Now a player and assistant to David Moyes.
Óli Johannesen (TB Tvøroyri)
Johannesen was retired until boyhood team Tvøroyri were promoted to the top flight for the 2012 campaign. The defender promptly helped them stay up in their first season back in the Faroese Premier Division but, aged 41, could not prevent relegation earlier this year. It is not yet clear whether the Faroe Islands' most-capped player will return for another term, though he did say at the end of last season: "I'll play at some level for as long as I have fun playing football."
Stanislav Kitto (JK Trans Narva)
Kitto played his 500th top-flight match in July and has made more appearances in the Estonian First League than any other footballer. Based at Trans for the majority of his career, the midfielder has also plied his trade with FC Zorya Luhansk, FK Rīga, FK Daugava Rīga and FC TVMK Tallinn. "After this season I will talk with the president to discuss future team plans and goals for next season," said Kitto, 41 tomorrow. "If there are challenges, why not continue playing?"
Oséias (FC Jeunesse Canach)
Signed by Jeunesse Canach in summer 2012, striker Oséias marked his first campaign in Luxembourg by finishing as his side's 12-goal leading scorer – wearing the weight of the years lightly. The burly Brazilian settled in quickly at Canach, his 24th club, and celebrated his 41st birthday in June; he has not featured this term, however, having damaged his Achilles tendon before the league kicked off, although he is expected to return in the new year.
Kevin Phillips (Crystal Palace FC)
Forward Phillips made his name at Sunderland AFC, where he registered 113 goals in 208 league outings. He earned England recognition for his exploits, which included top-scoring in the Premier League with 30 goals in 1999/2000. Subsequent stays at Southampton FC, Aston Villa FC, West Bromwich Albion FC, Birmingham City FC and Blackpool FC followed before the 40-year-old joined Palace last January. Phillips fired the Eagles' winner in May's play-off final win against Watford FC, securing him and Palace promotion back to the elite.
Tero Taipale (KuPS Kuopio)
Midfielder Taipale did not make his top-flight debut until he was 24. He has amassed nearly 350 appearances since then, with five different clubs, yet the 40-year-old seemingly played his last match in early October. However, tongue firmly in cheek, the one-time Finnish international suggested there could be more to come: "It is a little irritating that [former KuPS captain] Pietari Holopainen scored one league goal more than me in his career. Maybe I could be some kind of emergency back-up next season, getting to play one more game and score that extra goal."
Javier Zanetti (FC Internazionale Milano)
Zanetti became the 13th 40-something to feature in Serie A when he came on against AS Livorno Calcio on 9 November, more than six months after suffering what threatened to be a career-ending ruptured Achilles. "
My career isn't over, I'm just changing tyres,” the versatile veteran said at the time of his injury. With just 43 matches separating the 40-year-old from Paolo Maldini's Serie A appearance record, the erstwhile Argentina captain looks to have plenty more fuel in the tank.
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