Andorra's Ildefons Lima broke a record previously held by Lee Casciaro and Zlatan Ibrahimović during the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifiers in June.
Article top media content
Andorra's Ildefons Lima became the oldest player to appear in EURO qualifying in June 2023, surpassing a record previously held by Gibraltar's Lee Casciaro and Sweden great Zlatan Ibrahimović.
It takes some class and stamina to be able to play European football into your fifth decade; UEFA.com raises a toast to the oldest players to have appeared in the qualifying stages.
Who are the oldest players to appear in EURO qualifying?
Switzerland vs Andorra, 12/09/2023
Age: 43 years 276 days
The veteran defender, who has represented the likes of Espanyol, Las Palmas and Rayo Vallecano in Spain, made his 135th appearance for his country in a 2-1 UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying defeat to Switzerland in June 2023. After a brief cameo in a goalless draw with Belarus, Lima called time on his 26-year international career following a 3-0 reverse against the Swiss in September.
Greece vs Gibraltar, 10/09/2023
Age: 41 years 347 days
The forward has spent his entire career at Lincoln Red Imps and can boast more than 50 trophies at the club. He also shot to fame on the European stage when he struck the winner against Celtic in a UEFA Champions League qualifier in 2016. "As long as I can perform at the highest level, that's what's important," he said at the end of 2022. "Nobody knows the future, but for certain I want to carry on playing a few more years."
Sweden vs Belgium, 24/03/2023
Age: 41 years 172 days
Basking in the limelight is nothing new for the evergreen Sweden striker, but maybe even he could not have imagined he would still be setting records deep into his 42nd year. Only six days earlier, Ibrahimović had become the oldest goalscorer in Serie A history by scoring for AC Milan against Udinese – in his first start for 14 months following cruciate ligament surgery. "If I'm in good shape I want to continue," said the forward after that successful comeback, though it proved short-lived as he retired at the end of the season.
Sweden vs Italy, 29/05/1983
Age: 41 years 90 days
"The ageing process is one thing I cannot stop," Zoff said when announcing his retirement from the national team a year after captaining Italy to 1982 FIFA World Cup glory at the age of 40. "All that I have, I have earned through hard work," the 112-times capped goalkeeper once said of his stellar career. The secret of his longevity? Perhaps the eight eggs his grandmother Adelaide gave him each day as a teenager after he had been rejected by scouts for being too small. Zoff's awesome staying power was celebrated in an advert for corn oil in the 1980s, with the memorable slogan: "Dino Zoff, 40, but he doesn't feel like it."
Romania vs Andorra, 15/10/2023
Age: 41 years 55 days
The midfielder started his career with FC Andorra in 2000 but had to wait another 15 years to lift the first trophy of his career, helping Santa Coloma to back-to-back top-flight triumphs in 2014/15 and 2015/16. He won the third and fourth league titles of his career in 2019/20 and 2020/21 with Inter Club d'Escaldes, who beat his former employers to claim the Andorran Super Cup in 2021. Pujol won his 109th international cap in September as Andorra picked up their second point of EURO 2024 qualifying.
Austria vs Liechtenstein, 12/10/2015
Age: 41 years 35 days
A centre-forward who finished his 26-year career in central defence, Frick became Liechtenstein's first professional footballer when he signed for Swiss top-flight side St. Gallen in 1994. Basel and Zürich followed, before a move to Serie C side Arezzo made him the first Liechtenstein international to play professionally in Italy. There were spells in Serie A with Verona and Siena, and Serie B with Ternana, before he ended his career where it had started – in his native Liechtenstein with FC Balzers. His two sons have been playing for the national team since teenagers too – what chance either making this list around 2040?
The rest of the top ten...
Faroe Islands vs Northern Ireland, 10/08/2011
Age: 40 years 359 days
Andorra vs France, 11/06/2019
Age: 40 years 356 days
Roberto Di Maio
San Marino vs Slovenia, 10/09/2023
Age: 40 years 354 days
Armenia vs Portugal, 13/06/2015
Age: 40 years 312 days
The oldest player to feature in a UEFA European Championship final tournament match is Hungary's Gábor Király while Germany's Lothar Matthäus is the oldest outfield player to grace the finals. Check out those and other finals records here.