8 Players Whose Careers Have Stretched Over 4 Different Decades

​2020 has begun and once again things are changing all around us. But one thing is a constant – football. And even more constant are these footballers in particular.

It’s a rare thing for a footballer’s career to span four decades but these fellas have done it and done it in style – and they’re not just goalkeepers.

These players have shown us that age doesn’t matter. If you have it, then you have it, and long may it continue. They have oodles of talent and refuse to let the bitter, unstoppable ageing process hold them back, something that we can all appreciate as we head into another decade.

Here are eight such footballers who have won our respect with their longevity and ability.

Iker Casillas

Iker Casilas

One of the goalkeepers and nice guys of our generation has to be the Spanish shot-stopper. An illustrious career that began in 1998 with ​Real Madrid still continues today with Porto, with the Spaniard having recovered from a heart attack in May 2019.

His trophy cabinet is immense, with the 38-year-old having won three Champions League trophies, five La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey trophies with Real Madrid, also claiming the European Championships twice and World Cup once with Spain.

A stellar career may soon be over for health reasons, but the goalkeeper has joined an elite and illusive club, something that is testament to Casillas’ quality and commitment to the beautiful game.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic


Finally the saga is over. It has been confirmed that the mighty Zlatan will return to Serie A and former club ​AC Milan. The attacker has played for some pretty impressive clubs including Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Milan, but it all started back in Sweden for Ibrahimovic.

The 38-year-old began his career with Malmo in 1999 and has since scored 371 goals for his respective clubs, also netting 62 goals for Sweden. 

Almost as incredible as the striker’s goal tally is his ability to do the remarkable. Whether that be powerful headers, stunning acrobatic volleys or screamers from outside the box, Ibrahimovic can still do a little bit of everything.

Gianluigi Buffon 

Juventus v Udinese Calcio - Serie A

One of the greatest goalkeepers of several generations is still plying his trade at 41 years of age. 41.

Starting his career in 1995 (yes, really) ​Buffon has set a new standard for goalkeepers across the globe. Beginning at Parma in Italy, the shot-stopper made his big money move to Juventus – where he still plays following a brief period at PSG – back in 2001.

His individual honours are endless, while his trophy collection is quite something to behold – the crowning glory being the World Cup, won with Italy back in 2006. Buffon will remain a legend in Turin and the football word in general for as long as he lives.

Aritz Aduriz

Aritz Aduriz

The Spaniard is a legend among all in Bilbao, having featured 227 times since returning to Athletic Club in 2012. 

But a career that started at Aurrera in 1999 has seen trips to Real Valladolid, Mallorca and Valencia along the way, as well as a modest 13 appearances for the Spanish national team.

Despite never having quite graced the biggest stage, Aduriz has still bagged 220 club goals in a 21-year career and, despite his minutes on the pitch taking a hit in recent times, that tally could still rise.

Claudio Pizarro 

Claudio Pizarro

A 41-year-old striker is damn impressive. Pizarro began life as a footballer in 1996 and currently plays for Werder Bremen in the ​Bundesliga – a club where he has had four different permanent spells. The Peruvian also played for Koln, Chelsea and Bayern Munich in a stellar career which is yet to come to an end. 

Despite his struggles to add more goals to his record, Pizarro still gets a run out for Bremen, having featured 12 times already in the league this season. Having won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal six times and the Champions League once, the forward remains the sixth highest all-time goalscorer in the Bundesliga to date.

Maxi Rodriguez

Maximiliano Rodriguez

​Remembered chiefly as a Liverpool player and the scorer of one of Argentina’s greatest World Cup goals, you best believe Rodriguez still plays. 

Currently featuring for Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina – the club where he started his career in 1999 – this old boy still has plenty of life in him.

Having also donned the shirt of Espanyol, Atletico Madrid and Penarol, the 39-year-old attacker has also represented his national side on 57 occasions and finished as a runner-up with Argentina back at the 2014 World Cup.

Gareth Barry

Gareth Barry

​Way back in 1998, Barry graced our English turf for the first time with Aston Villa, going on to play at Villa Park for 11 years. The defensive midfielder moved on to Manchester City where he won the Premier League title and the FA Cup before joining Everton and going back to the West Midlands with West Brom.

A staple of English football, Barry also won 53 caps for the national side over a 12-year period and his ability to pick up cynical yellow cards is unrivalled – maybe Pep Guardiola should bring him back to City…

Roque Santa Cruz

Roque Luis Santa Cruz Cantero

Back where he started, Santa Cruz returned to Paraguay’s Olimpia in 2016, 19 years after making his debut for the club in the 1990s. 

The striker would go on to win five Bundesliga titles and the Champions League trophy with ​Bayern before making the move to England where he featured for both Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City.

The 38-year-old has made 112 appearances for Paraguay – the third most in their history – and also enjoyed spells with Cruz Azul, Malaga and, briefly, Real Betis.


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