With David Weir signing a new contract at Scottish champions Rangers FC, the leaderboard in the list of the oldest players to appear in the UEFA Champions League could receive another shake-up.
Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar retired after Manchester United FC's UEFA Champions League final defeat by FC Barcelona, with his Wembley appearance making him – at 40 years and 211 days – the oldest finalist. However, he remains joint-third in the overall rankings, exactly level with Weir, who was 40 years and 211 days old when making his final group stage outing last season at Bursaspor. Should Rangers reach this season's group stage, and feature defender Weir in their Matchday 1 fixture on 13/14 September, Van der Sar would be pushed down to third, with Weir – at 41 years and 126/7 days – also eclipsing Alessandro Costacurta to become the oldest outfield player, and the second oldest player in total. UEFA.com salutes the golden oldies.
43 years and 253 days
Real Madrid CF v S.S. Lazio, 11/12/07
Lazio were the 11th and last club that one-time Bologna FC goalkeeper Ballotta represented. "When I was young I was told to work hard to improve; now I'm older I'm told to work even harder because of my age," said the oldest man to play in Serie A as well as the UEFA Champions League, adding of his footballing longevity: "There is no particular secret. You need to stay motivated, but the most important thing is to keep having fun, both in training and in matches. Add to that an injury-free career and you have the answer." He retired in summer 2008, before briefly reappearing as a striker for lower league Calcara Samoggia the next season. "I had never scored a goal and I was missing that experience," he explained.
40 years and 213 days
AEK Athens FC v AC Milan, 21/11/06
Alongside Milan team-mates Mauro Tassotti, Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini, Costacurta formed one of the most famous back fours in European football, and even if scoring goals was never his strong point, his strike in the Rossoneri's 3-2 loss to Udinese Calcio in 2007 made him Serie A's oldest ever marksman. Third in the all-time Milan appearance stakes, with 458 games in Serie A and 660 in total, former Italy centre-half Costacurta lifted 23 trophies with the club, including seven Scudetti and five European Champion Clubs' Cups. He is now a popular commentator in Italy.
Edwin van der Sar
40 years and 211 days
FC Barcelona v Manchester United FC, 28/05/11
He did not go out with a bang, with United beaten in May's UEFA Champions League final, yet Van der Sar can have no regrets having won the competition with both AFC Ajax (1994/95) and United (2007/08). Those were the biggest successes of a stellar career in which the Dutchman represented Juventus and Fulham FC, and set a record of 130 caps for the Netherlands. "You dream about playing for your country and of lifting the Champions League," he said. "When you [do], you have the trophy in your hands for about five seconds and then you have to pass it to the next player. It's amazing when next day, you have a picture and it's going to be forever there, lifting that trophy."
40 years and 211 days
Bursaspor v Rangers FC, 07/12/2010
Weir only signed his first professional contract when he was 22, and was 36 by the time he made his Rangers debut, having learned his trade at Falkirk FC and Heart of Midlothian FC before shining as captain of Everton FC in the English Premier League. Capped 69 times by Scotland, the schoolboy striker turned central defender has never paid much attention to his age. "I don't think about it; that's the short answer really," he told UEFA.com. "I just think of myself as one of the players. I'm not interested in my age but I've been answering questions about it for long enough to realise it's not going to change."
40 years and 117 days
Club Brugge KV v AFC Ajax, 09/12/03
Goalkeeper Verlinden won five Belgian league titles with Club Brugge between 1988 and 2004, and claimed a European record of 1,390 minutes unbeaten in the league – a run spanning 16 matches from 3 March to 26 September 1990 – though he told UEFA.com recently: "As a player, as a keeper, you aren't particularly bothered about records." The former K. Lierse SK custodian – nicknamed The Wall – was capped once by Belgium and ended his career in dramatic style, scoring an own goal with a splendid overhead kick in Brugge's 4-2 win against KSK Beveren in the 2004 Belgian Cup final. "It all happened so quickly," he noted. "I don't think I ever scored such a beautiful goal. It will certainly be a Goal of the Month contender."
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