UEFA.com salutes the UEFA Champions League's golden oldies, featuring Marco Ballotta, Mark Schwarzer, Alessandro Costacurta, David Weir, Edwin van der Sar and Dany Verlinden.
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43 years and 253 days
Real Madrid CF v SS Lazio, 11/12/2007
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.
41 years and 198 days
Club Atlético de Madrid v Chelsea FC, 22/04/2014
The Australian had already become the second oldest player to appear in the competition in Chelsea's 1-0 home win against FC Steaua Bucureşti on matchday six – also making him the competition's oldest debutant. "It was a huge game for me and I am grateful to the manager for giving me the opportunity to fulfil a lifetime's ambition by playing in the Champions League," Schwarzer told UEFA.com. "My wife always says I'm unemotional but I was elated afterwards to have taken part." Better was to come as an injury to Petr Čech in the semi-final first leg made him the oldest to appear in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds.
40 years and 213 days
AEK Athens FC v AC Milan, 21/11/2006
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.
40 years and 212 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."
Edwin van der Sar
40 years and 212 days
FC Barcelona v Manchester United FC, 28/05/2011
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." He remains the oldest finalist.
40 years and 117 days
Club Brugge KV v AFC Ajax, 09/12/2003
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."