Experience is one of the most needed qualities on the football field, and Euro 2016 is not any different. Let’s see the oldest footballers still playing at the continental tournament!
Lothar Matthaus is the oldest football player who ever participated in a game in the Euro finals. However, that one of the Euro 2016 facts is about to change this year and the record will be overtaken – and not even by only one player! But let’s not get that far, let’s check out the oldest football players still playing at Euro 2016.
Hungarian goalie Gábor Király will become the oldest footballer at Euro history ever
Gábor Király will be the number one goalkeeper for Hungary. The 40-year-old goalie has been key figure in Hungary’s success to qualify for the Euro once again after 44 years of misery. While Hungary is not regarded as favourites for the tournament according to online sportsbooks, they still write history and will break one of the Euro 2016 records. Well done, guys!
- Experience is very much appreciated at Euro 2016
- Király will be the oldest player in the history of Euros
- Buffon, Casillas, Given and Caroll might be important as well
However, not only Hungary, but other teams consider it very important for their goalkeepers to be an experienced member of their team. For example, Italy’s number one choice will be world class veteran Gianluigi Buffon, who is 2 years younger than his Hungarian rival. Another goalkeeper legend, 35-year-old Iker Casillas will be there as well, although it’s still unknown if he will be the number 1 for Spain – David De Gea might replace him.
Then we must mention the Irish goalie, Shay Given. He is also 40 years old, like Király, but Given is 19 days younger than the Hungarian. Ireland’s team member is in the same position as Spain’s Iker Casillas: his experience is needed, but the youth might make him only second choice.
France, Romania, Ukraine and Croatia came with veteran full-backs
- France uses experience on both sides
- Shakhtar teammates might face each other
- Srna could be key member for Croatia
Not only for goalkeepers, but experience is indeed an important factor for defenders as well. And many teams will build their defensive lines based on experience more than the power of the youth. In our imaginary starting 11 of the oldest football players, Darijo Srna would take the right back’s position without a hesitation. The 34-year old is a key member for Croatia and he’s a real jolly joker: he is a right back, but can play left back, central defender and defensive midfielder as well.
Our team has the perfect substitute for Srna if we take a look at the Romanian team: Razvan Rat was one of the most important players in Romania’s qualification for the Euro finals. The 35 years old right back played all the important national games for his country. He will be among the oldest football players still playing at Euro 2016.
France, the hosting nation, also prepares with veteran full backs as their squad includes the likes of Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna. Both full-backs are expected to be number one picks for the left-back and the right-back positions respectively. They are not really among the oldest football players at Euro 2016 though: Evra is 35 while Sagna is 33.
Ukraine also believes that experience is important and hence one of the most important players in their squad is Vyacheslav Schevchuk. The 37-year-old left back is Razvan Rat’s teammate at Shakhtar Donetsk. Schevchuk played most games at the Euro 2016 Qualifiers and will probably also play during the tournament itself.
Ricardo Carvalho is one of the oldest football players to play at Euro 2016
- Ricardo Carvalho is still a top defender
- McAuley, O’Shea and Ignashevich are still important!
- Barzagli and Hughes will support from the bench…
Ricardo Carvalho turned 38 in May. He might not be the number 1 pick for the position of Portugal’s central defender as 33-year-old Pepe and 34-year-old Bruno Alves might be better options, but Carvalho will surely participate in a few games. He was one of the most stable points in Portugal’s defensive line during the Euro qualifiers. Thirty-eight already but still at the top, not bad!
The most important central defenders are also experienced players in Russia, Ireland and Northern Ireland as well. One of the most important members in Russia’s squad is Sergei Ignashevich, who will turn 37 in July. The 35-year-old Irish John O’Shea and the 36-year-old Northern Irish Gareth McAuley both played important parts in the qualification of their countries.
As we are talking about the oldest football players still playing in the Euro, we must mention 2 more names from the Northern Irish squad: 34-year-old Chris Baird and 36-year-old Aaron Hughes also form part of the team, but they are not very likely to play much, according to online betting news in France. Italy’s 35-year-old Andrea Barzagli is in a similar situation: he will most probably contribute to his team’s success from the sideline.
Big old guys in the midfield: Gera, Rosicky, Plasil, Tymoshchuk…
- Gera gets one last chance to shine for Hungary
- Thiago Motta could replace Verratti & Marchisio
- Czech midfield is pretty old with Rosicky & Plasil
Apart from record-breaker Gábor Király, Hungary will have another important player with tons of experience. Zoltán Gera will be the defensive midfielder in the Hungarian team as he played in most friendlies and Qualifiers in that position. The 37-year-old is one of the few Hungarians with actual European recognition: Gera played for Premier League teams WBA and Fulham, and won a silver medal with the latter one in the Europa League in 2010.
Apart from Hungary, the Czech midfield will also be really experienced: both Jaroslav Plasil and Tomas Rosicky will play in the Euro and they will be among the oldest European footballers as Rosicky is 35 while Plasil is 34. Ukraine’s 37-year-old central defender / defensive midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is also one of the oldest footballers still playing at Euro 2016, however he is not a key member in Ukraine’s squad any longer.
Unlike Russia’s 34-year-old Roman Shirokov, who was important in creating the balance on the Russian midfield which was of great help in the Qualification. Romania’s 36-year-old Lucian Sanmartean was also in the starting line-up every other game for Romania. His experience will be very welcome at the Euro as well.
One of the worst news for Italy’s Thiago Motta’s participation in the Euro finals. No, he’s not that bad of a player, and maybe he would be in the squad anyways, but at any other situation, he would stand no chance to be starter for Italy as Marchisio and Verratti are the best Italian midfielders. However, both will miss the Euro 2016 due to injuries and hence 33-year-old Thiago Motta’s importance multiplied by a lot.
Is it Zlatan’s last chance on a big tournament?
One of the oldest strikers at Euro 2016 is Swedish world-class Zlatan Ibrahimovic. There is no need to introduce the 34-year-old to anybody: the whole world knows so well this arrogant, yet so lovable guy who is one of the best strikers in the past few years. Million of rumours has been whispered about the future of Zlatan Ibrahomovic even without the Euro: his contract with PSG expired and now he’s looking for his new club. For that, Man Utd seems to be the most likely candidate according to internet betting in the UK.
37-year-old Icelandic Eidur Gudjohnsen will also participate in the Euro 2016 and will be one of the oldest football players in the tournament. Apart from Zlatan and Eidur, Aritz Aduriz and David Lafata are worth mentioning on the list of the oldest European footballers: the former one is 35 years old and is a reserve member of the Spanish squad, while the latter on plays for Czech Republic and is 34 years old.
So they were the most important ones of the oldest football players still playing at Euro 2016. Of course not all football fans can know all of them, but we are lucky enough to see some great legends on the pitch for one last time. Now all we need to do is open a bottle of beer and enjoy the teams fighting to be crowned as the best European football nation.