33 Oldest Active Soccer Players
Time flies, especially for football players, whose physical powers start to wane at around 34 years of age when they typically retire. Not for them! Discover who is the oldest soccer player in a list of 33 well-researched bios. The complete catalogue is filled with legends that redefined the game, local heroes, and what-if stories.
We have created this blog post, specifically the stats tables, using the available data. Should anything change from the moment of its publishing, we will update the article accordingly.
Most of our readers know CasinoAlpha as a source of expertly curated casino lists. Still, a quick skim through our blog will show you that our interests are much more wide-ranging. We love sports, and we’re aware of UK players’ passion for football. So, we took up the challenge to create an exhaustive list with the oldest professional soccer players still netting goals and making incredible saves.
Granted, our list does not feature every active player approaching retirement, but only footballers with notable achievements.
To make this really long list of 33 players more user friendly, we’ve divided it into age groups:
- The first division features 11 well-known players aged 37 and 38
- Then we have 8 footballers who still play at the age of 39
- The third age group consists of another 8 active players aged 40
- The fourth age group features 5 active players aged 41-44
- Finally, the oldest soccer player still playing, shockingly, at the age of 55
Furthermore, we provide intuitive tables for a quick overview of each player’s career. We keep our editorial standards by only including relevant information.
Individual player stats featured in our tables refer to club performance only. We used transfermarkt.com as a source. In the cases of relevant national team players, we summed up their goals, trophies, or other achievements in the text.
11 Familiar Faces
Let’s kick off our quest with 11 players you’ve surely seen playing recently.
“CR7” Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro – 37 years, 2 months
|Date of birth||5 February 1985|
|Country of origin||Portugal|
|Career peak||Real Madrid|
|Current club||Manchester United|
|Total Goals / Appearances||813 Goals / 1121|
Born on the island of Madeira in 1985, Ronaldo may not be the oldest professional soccer player. Still, he’s without a doubt the greatest of them. At 37 years, his goal tally is still better than most attackers’, although football pundits have decried his waning physical capacity.
Landmarks of his past and present
During his prolific career, kicked off at Sporting Lisbon, he has conquered 32 collective trophies and beat countless individual records. Having emerged as a superstar at Manchester United, he is best known for his time at Real Madrid. Still, he’s left his mark everywhere he played.
- Ronaldo’s father named him ‘Ronaldo’ after Ronald Reagan.
- He figured in a commercial for one of the most popular online casinos in the UK, PokerStars.
Ronaldo has recently become the all-time FIFA best scorer while also becoming the oldest soccer player ever to score a hat-trick in the Premier League. He found the net 807 times in total. Other than that, CR7:
- Scored the most goals in the UEFA Champions League (140)
- Provided the most assists in UCL (42)
- He is the only player to reach 17 UCL goals in a single season
- Lifted the prestigious Champions League trophy 5 times
- Surpassed Raúl, becoming Real Madrid’s top goalscorer with 451
- Scored a record 115 international goals in 180 appearances
- Played over 1100 matches as a professional, a rare feat
- Is the 21st century’s record holder for the most hat-trice ks with 57
Ronaldo’s “Playstation goal”
In the quarter-finals of UCL 2017-2018, Ronaldo received a standing ovation after scoring a bicycle kick in a 3-0 win against Juventus, the team he would play for the next season. Juve defender Andrea Barzagli rightfully described it as a “Playstation goal”.
The very definition of fame
Ronaldo’s illustrious career and spectacular play style made him the second-highest-paid athlete and football’s greatest earner. It also brought a fair share of controversy with it.
It also established him as a prevalent online presence. His Facebook and Instagram accounts have the most followers across the two networks. He was the first to surpass half a billion online followers.
“The Little Magician” Santi Cazorla – 37 years, 4 months
|Date of birth||December 13, 1984|
|Country of origin||Spain|
|Career peak||Arsenal, Villarreal|
|Current club||Al Sadd|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||128 / 138 / 645|
Santi Cazorla’s career spans almost 20 years. The midfielder impressed football lovers worldwide with his skills and intelligence on the pitch and his down-to-earth mentality.
Rise to stardom
He started out in Andalusia, at Real Oviedo’s youth team, and soon caught the attention of first-tier side Villareal. However, due to stiff competition in midfield, he had to find a team where he could be a regular starter. In 2006, Juan Román Riquelme also joined the Yellow Submarine, and young Santi needed playtime.
After a season with newly-promoted Recreativo Huelva, where he scored 5 times, he returned northeast of Valencia and claimed a central role in Villarreal’s squad. Shortly after, he earned a calling to Spain’s national team and grew to accrue 15 goals across international competitions and friendlies.
At Villarreal, Santi Cazorla scored 57 goals and provided an equal number of assists.
One of the worst injuries in football history
The 5′ 5″ tall Magician’s 2012 major destination was Arsenal, where he became a fan-favourite for all the right reasons. His output at Arsenal was brilliant, despite a severe injury that kept him off the field for almost 2 years and halted his becoming a Gunners’ legend.
So severe was Cazorla’s Achilles tendon tear that the doctors told him he’d be lucky if he walked again. But, despite all odds and after countless surgeries, in 2018, he returned to Villarreal. He enjoyed a new career peak, surpassing legend Riquelme’s goal tally and becoming the highest-scoring midfielder in the club’s history.
Starting Arsenal’s FA Cup comeback
While at Arsenal, Cazorla’s stunning free-kick goal helped the Gunners mount a comeback against a confident Wolves side, leading 2-0.
“The Monster” Thiago Silva – 37 years, 5months
|Date of birth||September 22, 1984|
|Country of origin||Brazil|
|Career peak||AC Milan, PSG|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||37 / 14 / 581|
The veteran is hailed as one of the best central defenders. His discipline and leadership earned him Brazil’s captain armband, which he wears to this day. And, unlike other players that we’ve analysed in our search for the oldest active football player, he’s still involved at the highest level.
How Silva nearly quit football
Thiago Silva’s early career is marked by an almost tragic event that could have spared us the opportunity to see him play. After experiencing the lower ranks of Brazilian domestic football, he was bought by FC Porto. A one-year stint with Porto’s reserve team wasn’t very satisfying, so he left on loan for Dynamo Moscow.
There he developed a form of tuberculosis that got him hospitalised for half a year. Luckily, he regained his health, returned to Fluminense, and restarted his career.
Honours and records
His constancy and ruthlessness at Fluminense led fans to regard him as the best defender in the country. That’s also when he was dubbed “The Monster”, got on the best European teams’ radar and wound up at AC Milan.
There he spent 3 seasons and won the Serie A title, then Paris Saint-Germain paid a record transfer fee for a defender, €42 million, to bring him on board. It paid off, as the Brazilian was instrumental in PSG’s domestic dominance between 2012 and 2020. PSG won the league no less than 7 times with him a regular starter.
However, he had to wait until late in his career to raising the Champions League trophy above his head. A runner-up with PSG in 2020, he finally won it next year with Chelsea.
Best defensive plays at Chelsea
Thiago Silva’s been like a rock in Chelsea’s defensive apparatus, and the following clip encompasses his brilliance that only got better with age.
“King Kong” Giorgio Chiellini – 37 years, 7 months
|Date of birth||August 14, 1984|
|Country of origin||Italy|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||43 / 26 / 655|
Chiellini is arguably one of the best defenders in the history of Juventus. Still, few knew that he came from a family of intellectuals. The one nicknamed King Kong has a twin brother, and he’s among the few footballers with complete academic training. He collected his master’s degree in business administration in 2017.
Stats and figures
Chiellini played in Italy all his life. After spending his youth years at Livorno, he only needed one season at Fiorentina to prove he’s the missing piece in the Old Lady’s defence. Juventus transferred him in 2005, and he has remained faithful to the Turin side ever since.
The nickname ‘King Kong’ comes from his trademark goal celebration, where he pounds his chest like a gorilla.
Despite his 8 goals in 114 appearances for the Italian national team, Chiellini had to wait until 2021 to raise an international trophy above his head. Interestingly, at 36, he was Italy’s oldest soccer player ever to take part in a European tournament.
His team’s triumph put an end to Italy’s trophy drought since the 2006 World Cup. Chiellini’s contribution is undoubted as he was crowned the competition’s best defender.
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At club level, his achievements include:
- 9x Serie A champion
- 5x Italian Cup
- 5x Italian Super Cup
2014 World Cup controversy
Football fans remember a strange occurrence in World Cup history. In a match between Italy and Uruguay, back when VAR didn’t exist, Chiellini strategically placed his shoulder into Suarez’s open mouth, hurting the latter’s teeth in the process. If it weren’t caught on tape, you wouldn’t believe it!
“Batman” Samir Handanovic – 37 years, 8 months
|Date of birth||July 14, 1984|
|Country of origin||Slovenia|
|Total Clean Sheets / Appearances||245 / 692|
Aside from being a world-class keeper at Inter, Samir Handanovic is known to be a passionate reader. Born in Ljubljana, the Slovenian goalkeeper is renowned for his acrobatic saves, which earned him the nickname of Batman. But unlike some of the players on our list, you won’t find much gossip about him online. He’s made a mission out of keeping his private life private.
Best Inter goalkeeper?
Handanovic played his first professional matches for NK Domzale but quickly moved to Italy. In 2012, after 8 years at Udinese, which included a season-long developmental spell in Serie B with Rimini and a historic third-place finish, he was transferred to Inter Milan.
He will go down in history as one of Inter’s finest goalkeepers. The team’s captain has been named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year no less than 3 times. Only 3 other foreign goalkeepers managed to win this individual prize. Moreover, with 157 clean sheets, he’s surpassed legend goalkeeper Walter Zenga’s record of 148 matches without conceding a goal.
The 3x Footballer of the Year had to wait another 9 years for his first trophy. It came in 2021, as Inter won the Serie A after more than a decade.
Batman in action
Watch the video below, and understand why they call him Batman.
“The Illusionist” Andrés Iniesta – 37 years, 10 months
|Date of birth||May 11, 1984|
|Country of origin||Spain|
|Career peak||FC Barcelona|
|Current club||Vissel Kobe|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||84 / 161 / 796|
We’re still a long way from the oldest soccer player playing, but Iniesta has to be one of the most noteworthy. Some may belittle his decision to part with Barcelona and play in the Japanese J1 League, which is less intense than the Spanish La Liga. Still, nobody can deny that Iniesta is a joy to watch no matter where he plays.
One of the finest products of La Masia
Andres Iniesta has a legend’s career behind him. Together with Xavi, he was the midfield engine of a Barcelona team that won everything, multiple times, locally and continentally. As if winning the prestigious Champions League 4 times wasn’t enough, he also scored a winning goal for Spain in extra time, securing his country’s first-ever World Cup.
His genius as a playmaker earned him a variety of flattering nicknames like ‘El Cerebro’ (The Brain), ‘El Maestro’ (The Master), ‘El Ilusionista’ (The Illusionist) and, strangely enough, ‘El Caballero Pálido’ (The Pale Knight).
Iniesta has taken over his father’s winery and turned into a global brand, Bodega Iniesta.
If other players in this list may need a large room to house all their trophies and medals, Iniesta needs at least the entire floor:
- 9x Spanish League
- 6x Spanish Cup and 7x Super Cup
- 4x UEFA Champions League
- 3x UEFA Super Cup
- 3x FIFA Club World Cup (all with Barcelona)
- 1x Japanese Cup and 1x Japanese Super Cup (with Vissel Kobe)
- 1x FIFA World Cup and 2x EURO championships (with Spain)
- 1x Player of the Year
- 1x UEFA Best Player in Europe
- 1x Footballer of the Year
Master of late goals
Iniesta didn’t score so many goals, but he made the difference when he did. Revisit his 93rd-minute goal from May 2009 against Chelsea in the semi-finals. There was some controversy associated with this, but the goal is a masterpiece.
Frederico “Fred” Chaves Guedes – 38 years, 5 months
|Date of birth||October 3, 1983|
|Country of origin||Brazil|
|Career peak||Olympique Lyon|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||215 / 59 / 493|
Younger football fans may be more acquainted with the 29-year-old Fred currently playing as a midfielder for Manchester United. However, if you were in front of the TV when Germany destroyed Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals for the 2014 World Cup, you know the commentators were referring to another Fred.
What did Fred achieve?
Fred’s 2014 World Cup experience, the match against Germany in particular, was an absolute nightmare for the striker. The following 3-0 defeat against the Netherlands led to his retirement from the national team. Otherwise, he had a relatively prolific span with Brazil, with 18 goals in 39 caps.
After two prolific seasons with America Mineiro and Cruzeiro, in 2005, French giants Lyon bought him for €15 million. In France, Fred scored 33 goals in 86 appearances. He was the team’s top scorer in the 2005-2006 season and won the league three times and the cup once.
He could have achieved more if it weren’t for an injury that prompted the club’s manager to find a replacement. That replacement was future superstar Karim Benzema, a young revelation at the time.
Faced with this prospect, he felt returning to Brazil was the way. At 38, he is now scoring goals for Fluminense again.
Top 10 goals for Lyon
Do you remember when PSG did not so utterly dominate the French league?
“Harry Potter” Ricardo Quaresma – 38 years, 5 months
|Date of birth||September 26, 1983|
|Country of origin||Portugal|
|Career peak||FC Porto, Besiktas|
|Current club||Vitoria Guimaraes|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||108 / 165 / 668|
Ricardo Quaresma is a close friend of Cristiano Ronaldo, with whom he shared the spotlight in Portugal’s squad for many years. He’s an undoubted natural talent. Still, his development shows what Ronaldo could have become if it weren’t for Sir Alex Ferguson to turn those fancy tricks into a winner mentality.
Wandering about for greatness
Quaresma and Ronaldo played for Sporting Lisbon in their youth. In fact, the former often stole the show. The year 2003 came, and both players got signed by European giants. Ronaldo went to Manchester United, where he would get polished with the Fergie treatment. Quaresma headed towards Barcelona, where he’d remain a rebel and a diamond in the rough.
While Ronaldo spent 6 years at United, Quaresma spent just 1 season in Catalonia. Afterwards, he was sold to Porto. Here, the Portuguese trickster grew to be valued at €23.00m. Inter paid a little over this amount to transfer the up-and-coming star.
Famous players like these two are featured in many esports like FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer. eSports are common at more and more online casinos in the UK. Some online platform will stream the competitions and allow you to place bets on your players.
It didn’t prove the best deal. Spending most of the 1-year stay on loan at Chelsea, Quaresma can’t quite call himself a Champions League winner. However, his team, Inter, won it that season. His following experience at Besiktas was more lucrative in terms of minutes played. Still, the player would witness a decline in form and be banished from European glory from then on.
How good was Quaresma?
Óscar René “Tacuara” Cardozo – 38 years, 9 months
|Date of birth||May 20, 1983|
|Country of origin||Paraguay|
|Current club||Club Libertad Asunción|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||270 / 70 / 545|
Óscar Cardozo is a forward currently playing for Club Libertad in his native Paraguay. Now he’s approaching retirement, but he was a key asset of Benfica once, scoring no less than 167 goals across competitions for the Portuguese side alone.
Numbers don’t lie
Cardozo quickly upped through the local football ranks and then established himself as a dependable striker at Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina. After a half-season in which he became the team’s top scorer, he was voted Footballer of the Year by the Paraguay Football Association. Shortly he was wearing Benfica’s shirt.
During his time at Benfica, between 2007-2014, Cardozo won:
- 2x Portuguese Championship
- 6x Portuguese League Cup
- 1x Portuguese Cup
He was crowned the league’s top scorer in the 2009-2010 and 2011-2012 seasons. The striker is also the Eagles’ second most prolific goal scorer in European competitions.
Cardozo played a Europa League final in his last year at Benfica. He doesn’t hold very dear memories of the night. At the shoot-out, he missed his penalty, and his team lost to Sevilla.
Indeed, penalties seem to be Cardozo’s weak spot. A season prior, in 2013, the player had missed 9 penalties, setting a negative record in the league.
The forward also enjoyed spells with Trabzonspor and Olympiacos, winning the league with the latter in 2017. Still, he couldn’t match the form he achieved at Benfica. Back on home soil, he won the Paraguayan league in 2021.
Not a freeloader type of striker
Strangely, as lousy a penalty taker as he was, Cardozo was a fierce free-kick specialist and an elegant finisher.
“The Tarantula” Dani Alves – 38 years, 10 months
|Date of birth||May 6, 1983|
|Country of origin||Brazil|
|Career peak||Sevilla, FC Barcelona|
|Current club||FC Barcelona|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||60 / 171/ 833|
A football player can reach multiple peaks, and Dani Alves did so at Sevilla, Barcelona, and his native Brazil. At 38, he has the same love for the game and, most importantly, an up to par physical capacity. He’s recently returned to Barcelona on a free transfer to help the debt-ridden club come back on track.
An attacking-minded right-back
Having started his career at Bahia, Alves went to Sevilla for less than €1 million. After his first peak here, Dani Alves became the most expensive defender ever transferred by FC Barcelona. His attacking abilities made him the perfect choice for the Blaugrana side, which paid over €35 million to sign him.
Dani Alves is a complete player. He’s been deployed on all positions on the field except for left-wing. His versatility had an impact no matter the team he’s played for or against. That won him trophies in every league he played. With Barcelona, he is a:
- 3x Champions League winner
- 6x La Liga champion
- 4x Spanish Cup and 4x Spanish Super Cup winner
- 3x FIFA Club World Cup champion
- 3x UEFA Super Cup winner
Elsewhere, the defender has claimed:
- 1x Serie A and 1x Italian Cup with Juventus
- 2x Ligue 1, 1x French Cup, 1x French League Cup, 2x French Super Cup with PSG
- 2x UEFA Cup, 1x UEFA Super Cup, 1 Spanish Cup and 1x Spanish Super Cup with Sevilla
The player also won 2x Copa America and 2x Confederations Cup with Brazil while participating in 2 World Cup tournaments.
Alves’ goals for Barcelona
“Ferraribery” Franck Ribéry – 38 years, 11 months
|Date of birth||April 7, 1983|
|Country of origin||France|
|Career peak||Bayern München|
|Current club||US Salernitana|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||151 / 223 / 623|
Ribery didn’t hang up his boots just yet, although he’s almost 39. Currently registered at newly-promoted US Salernitana, standing at the bottom of the Serie A table, the Frenchman has surely chosen a problematic mission for his final playing years.
Stuff for the history books
Football fans of the next generation may not be so familiar with the winger. In Europe, Ribery played in 4 different countries. Still, he’s most renowned for the 12+ years he spent at Bayern Munich, during which he’s won a ridiculous number of trophies:
- 9x Bundesliga
- 6x German Cup
- 1x Champions League
- 1x FIFA Club World Cup
- 1x German League Cup
- 1x UEFA Super Cup
- 4x German Super Cup
Ribery was the Best Player in Europe in 2013, but he’s continued to play at the highest level until 2019. His pace, passing precision and technicality made him a nightmare for defenders and a fundamental player for both Bayern and France. However, Franck Ribery didn’t achieve international success, except for a silver medal at the 2006 World Cup.
Many believe that the French winger should have won the Ballon d’Or in 2013. Considering that Ronaldo would win the prize on another 3 occasions, it feels like the Frenchman deserved more.
8 Football Stars Aged 39
The following stars defy time and can still play for 90 minutes, even though they’re approaching the footballer-dreaded age of 40.
“Pepe” Kepler Laveran Lima Ferreira – 39 years
|Date of birth||February 26, 1983|
|Country of origin||Brazil|
|Career peak||Real Madrid|
|Current club||FC Porto|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||38 / 33 / 654|
Pepe belongs to that category of Brazilian players known by their singular nicknames, along with Fred, Nene, or Ronaldinho. Players go this route because Brazilian names are a pain to pronounce. Our Kepler Laveran Lima Ferreira is a definite case in point.
According to Pepe’s father, tagging his child with ‘Kepler’ and ‘Laveran’ was a way to pay his respects to the two epoch-making scientists.
The condensed history of a bad boy
Pepe’s been regarded as a ruthless defender at Maritimo, where he took off in 2002, and then at FC Porto and Real Madrid, where he played the most and sent the most opponents to the hospital.
Managers who could tame the inner savage in Pepe found him highly dependable. For instance, at his return to Porto in 2019, Pepe was appointed captain’s duties to value his vast experience.
His peak is the time spent at Real Madrid, where he took care that Messi doesn’t leave home unbruised while winning 3x Spanish League titles and 3x UEFA Champions League, among others.
Why did Real Madrid pay over $30 million for him?
Real needed a rough player at centre-back who would instil a sense of fear in the opposition. He formed a rock-hard line of defence with Sergio Ramos, one more hardcore than the other. The red cards he was administered are very telling:
“The Octopus” Atiba Hutchinson – 39 years, 1 month
|Date of birth||February 8, 1983|
|Country of origin||Canada|
|Career peak||FC Copenhagen, Besiktas|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||55 / 58 / 625|
Hutchinson may be a lesser-known contender for the oldest soccer player title. Still, he was a crucial piece in Canada’s football team since 2003 and amassed 90 caps, claiming the national Footballer of the Year award 6 times, most recently in 2016.
Quick run-down of a nomad’s accomplishments
Atiba Hutchinson is of Trinidadian origin. He grew up in Ontario, developed as a footballer first in Canada, then in Sweden, and in 2001 held a trial at Schalke 04. Despite not making it into Bundesliga, he’s won many trophies in Denmark and Turkey. Get to know him by his individual and collective triumphs:
- Selected for the FIFA World Youth Championship in 2001 and 2003
- 3x Turkish league champion, 1x Turkish cup at Besiktas
- 4x Danish champion, 1x Royal league winner at FC Copenhagen
Hutchinson was also Besiktas’s captain in the recent 21-22 Turkish Super Cup final, leading his team to victory.
Atiba Hutchinson’s multiculturalism makes him the prototype of a global player. A globetrotter to the core, even his marriage fits this pattern. Hutchinson is married to a French-Iranian woman he met in Denmark.
Atiba’s most bizarre goal for Canada
El Salvador players don’t even know what hit them.
“Mr. Hitman” Fabio Quagliarella – 39 years, 1 month
|Date of birth||January 31, 1983|
|Country of origin||Italy|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||235 / 62 / 672|
Fabio Quagliarella is among the oldest soccer players still playing. The opportunistic striker peaked at Juventus and played for various other teams in the Italian Serie A. His efficiency in front of goal earned him 29 caps for the national team, during which he managed to score eight times.
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Quagliarella’s career in numbers
He played for 5 different Italian teams, enjoying domestic success. His most prolific time was with Turin-based arch-rivals Juventus and FC Torino. His 2015 goal against Juventus steered the Turin-derby toward the underdog side after 20 years.
A player with a versatile skill set, he was often deployed as a winger, attacking midfielder and false 9, besides his role as a classic striker. Collectively, he’s won:
- 3x Italian Serie A
- 2x Italian Super Cup
- 2018-2019 Serie A top scorer (at 36 years old)
Have you ever seen a back-heel volley?
“Uncle” Jermain Defoe – 39 years, 5 months
|Date of birth||October 7, 1982|
|Country of origin||England|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||286 / 59 / 730|
The former England international was a prized asset in Tottenham’s squad, having played at the North London side between 2004-2008 and 2009-2014. Like the previous entry in our list of the oldest professional soccer players, Defoe developed his talents mainly in the domestic divisions. He scored dozens of goals in the Premier League and FA Championship.
The player is slowly but steadily approaching the end of his career. He’s currently serving Sunderland in League One, but his form is nowhere near what we were used to in his prime. In the 2021-2022 season, he has yet to score a goal, and reaching the 300 goals landmark seems far from probable.
With the England national team, ‘The Uncle’ was mainly used in friendlies and EURO and World Cup qualifiers, scoring 20 goals in total. His only World Cup goal is in a 1-0 victory against Slovenia in 2010.
The player’s career triumphs include a League Cup with Tottenham and a Scottish League with Rangers.
Jermain Defoe was ordained Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2018 for his charity work.
Maarten Stekelenburg – 39 years, 5 months
|Date of birth||September 22, 1982|
|Country of origin||Netherlands|
|Career peak||Ajax, AS Roma|
|Total Clean Sheets / Appearances||156 / 443|
Yet another example of a player who’s only won domestic trophies but couldn’t get their hands on continental or international silverware. Stekelenburg was very close to becoming world champion with his native Netherlands in 2010. Still, the team couldn’t break the curse and lost the final dramatically against Iniesta’s Spain.
The Netherlands is the national team that’s played the most World Cup finals without ever winning any of them. The ‘Clockwork Orange’ succumbed on 3 occasions to Germany, Argentina, and Spain.
Multi-decorated Amsterdam legend
His noteworthy career accomplishments include 3x Dutch league, 4x Dutch Cup and 3x Dutch Super Cup winner with Ajax. On the downside, he would surely like to forget the experience of relegating with Fulham in the 2013-2014 season.
He’s recently returned between Ajax’s posts after surgery, and he already has 2 clean sheets in 3 matches played. You can watch his best moments at the team right below:
José Manuel “Pepe” Reina Páez – 39 years, 6 months
|Date of birth||August 31, 1982|
|Country of origin||Spain|
|Total Clean Sheets / Appearances||337 / 854|
Pepe Reina made a name for himself at Barcelona, Villareal and Liverpool, reaching world-class fame while playing for the Reds. Having debuted at only 18 years for FC Barcelona, he came to be renowned for his reflexes and ability to parry penalties.
Liverpool’s top keeper between 2005-2010
Although he stayed at the team until 2013, Reina’s first 5 years at Liverpool were the most productive. His saves contributed to Liverpool winning the FA Cup and Community Shield in his first season.
Pepe Reina kept the goal safe in 4 of the 5 most important European leagues. Still, he only claimed a single domestic championship, the German title with Bayern Munich in 2015.
Internationally, Reina accrued 34 appearances and was part of the legendary Spain squad that won everything between 2008 and 2012, including:
- 1x World Cup 2010
- 2x European championships in 2008, 2012
Pepe still has it
Although not a regular starter anymore, Pepe Reina still amazes Lazio fans at almost 40 years old with his dives.
Wesley Patrick “Wessi” Hoolahan – 39 years, 9 months
|Date of birth||May 20, 1982|
|Country of origin||Ireland|
|Career peak||Norwich City|
|Current club||Cambridge Utd.|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||91 / 114 / 696|
At some point of his career, Wes Hoolahan was deemed the Irish Messi for his impressive ball control and passing abilities, but he never got the chance to put these skills to the test in a European final. The player spent his best years at Norwich, helping them win promotion to the Premier League.
A diamond on tough pitches
Irish football lovers regard ‘Wessi’ as a rare talent and a classic Irish what-if story. He was rumoured to be heading toward Aston Villa in 2014, but he ended up battling in semi-professional swamps.
It’s incredible what he can do on muddy fields at almost 40 years. Still, the fact that he didn’t attract any significant European team’s interest is undoubtedly frustrating.
Now at Cambridge United, Wes Hoolahan may not think about retirement yet, but his trophy room is likely not to see any new additions, besides:
- 1x League One title, 1x Championship runner-up, with Norwich
- 3x Irish Premier Division titles with Shelbourne
- 1x League Two runner-up with Cambridge United
Hoolahan’s best goal
Hoolahan has retired from international duties, but Irish fans will never forget his goal against Sweden.
Jorge Molina Vidal – 39 years, 10 months
|Date of birth||April 22, 1982|
|Country of origin||Spain|
|Career peak||Betis, Getafe|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||224 / 48 / 586|
In the football world, as you get closer and closer to the age of 40, you must be doing something really well to be valued at over €1 million because physical powers invariably fade.
In the case of Granada’s veteran striker, Jorge Molina, what he does best is score goals, even though he’s the oldest football player in the team. Despite his age, he’s currently leading Granada’s top scorers’ list for the 2022 season.
Prolific late bloomer
Molina started playing football in 2001, changing various second and third-tier teams before eventually being registered by Poli Ejido in 2007. That happened when he was 25. Most players reach their maximum potential by this age. Writing a hat-trick to his name against Villarreal in the Copa del Rey in a crushing 6-1 aggregate victory made several clubs interested in the forward’s services.
After a year with Elche, as the league’s top scorer with 26, he was approached by Betis Sevilla. He stayed at the Andalusian side between 2010 and 2016, contributing to no less than 98 goals in 279 appearances and helping them win promotion twice.
In December 2022, at 39 years old, he’s become the oldest professional soccer player to bag a hat-trick in the Spanish La Liga, in a 4-1 win over Mallorca. Thus, he surpassed the recent record set by Joaquin, who had scored his hat-trick at 38 years and 140 days.
8 Active Players Aged 40
With a few notable exceptions, particularly Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Joaquin, most of our selections for the 40-year age group currently play for minor teams or in otherwise less intense leagues.
Rodrigo “Chiquito” Palacio – 40 years, 1 month
|Date of birth||February 5, 1982|
|Country of origin||Argentina|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||203 / 109 / 603|
Rodrigo Palacio is not far from being the oldest active soccer player in Italian football. However, he cannot compete with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Argentine is playing the end of his career in Serie B at Brescia.
Not good enough for Europe?
Palacio is best known for his 5-year stint with Inter. His 171 appearances and 58 goals dispel any doubts regarding his quality. After all, we’re talking about a player who won a silver medal at the 2014 World Cup.
While the Argentine striker didn’t enjoy any European triumph, he won it all with Boca Juniors:
- 3x Argentinian league champion
- 1x Copa Libertadores winner (the equivalent of the UEFA Champions League in South America)
- 1x Copa Sudamericana winner (the equivalent of Europa League)
- 1x Recopa Sudamericana winner
Hat-trick hero at 38
Palacio is a creative and versatile forward who can fulfil numerous roles within the team. He can play as an attacking midfielder, but at the same time, he doesn’t pass over his defender duties. The Argentine single-handedly earned Bologna a draw in a 6-goal thriller versus Fiorentina.
Diego López – 40 years, 4 months
|Date of birth||November 3, 1981|
|Country of origin||Spain|
|Total Clean Sheets / Appearances||168 / 555|
Diego Lopez is a product of Real Madrid’s youth academy, but his career didn’t entirely take off as everyone expected.
The keeper enjoyed a successful period between 2007 and 2014. Consequently, Madrid bought him from Sevilla for €3.5 million in 2013 to be a substitute for Casillas. In 2014, he became UEFA Champions league champion with the club after playing a single match in the tournament.
However, Diego Lopez was no replacement for Casillas. It wasn’t his fault, but Real was forced to let the player go as a free agent. After that, his short time at AC Milan was no reason for pride either, as he conceded 56 goals in 37 matches.
Besides his European champion medal, Diego Lopez also won the Spanish Copa del Rey and the Spanish Second division title.
Milan Baros aka “The Ostravan Maradona” – 40 years, 4 months
|Date of birth||October 28, 1981|
|Country of origin||Czech Republic|
|Current club||FK Vigantice|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||177 / 60 / 556|
Technically, Milan Baros is no longer part of a professionals team. That could raise some eyebrows as to why we include him in our oldest active soccer players list. Still, we thought he deserved an honorary mention rather than leaving him out.
From Vigantice to Vigantice
The Czech forward’s first steps in football were at FK Vigantice, a small amateur club close to home. Moving up the ranks of domestic football, he spent his formative years with Banik Ostrava’s U19 team, moving up to play with the seniors afterwards.
If Molina was the epitome of a late bloomer, Milan Baros is, without a doubt, the absolute opposite. During his very first seasons as a professional, ‘the Ostravan Maradona’ caught the attention of Liverpool and got the transfer of his life.
He fared decently as a Liverpool striker, winning the Champions League. He also enjoyed noteworthy seasons at Aston Villa, Lyon, and Galatasaray.
The player spent the last 7 years of his professional career playing in the Czech league. Now he’s back at his childhood club, amateur-level FK Vigantice. He has a lot of experience to share with young Czech players:
- Top scorer at the 2004 European championship
- 2x French champion with Lyon
- 1x French Cup, 1x French League Cup and 1x French Super Cup also with Lyon
- 1x FA Cup winner with Portsmouth
- 1x UCL winner with Liverpool
- 1x League Cup winner with Liverpool
An unlikely finish
You should be able to score from any position if they call you ‘Maradona’, including lying flat on the grass. That’s what Baros has done here.
“Ibra” Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 40 years, 5 months
|Date of birth||October 3, 1981|
|Country of origin||Sweden|
|Career peak||Inter, Barcelona, PSG|
|Current club||AC Milan|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||492 / 201 / 809|
Ibra is known for his eccentric displays on and off the pitch, but his goal tally speaks for itself. His strong physique and determination may push him to become the oldest soccer player ever to play. Until that day comes, he will be proud to hold the record for the oldest football player of non-Italian origin to score a goal in Serie A’s entire history.
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A lot of trophies, but no Champions League
Zlatan’s biggest frustration is not having won the Champions League yet. Otherwise, his career is as illustrious as they get. It’s funny that a substitute goalkeeper like Diego Lopez won the most prestigious continental trophy, and a 15x Footballer of the Year and 7x Top Scorer didn’t.
His 492 goals and 693 goal contributions in 809 matches prove that Ibrahimovic hardly plays a game without leaving his mark. He’s conquered:
- 1x Spanish League and 2x Spanish Super Cup at Barcelona
- 4x Italian League and 3x Italian Super Cup with Inter and AC Milan
- 4x French League, 2x French Cup and 3x French League Cup at PSG
- 2x Dutch League, 1x Dutch Cup, 1x Dutch Super cup with Ajax
- 1x Europa League, 1x English Super Cup and 1x League Cup at Manchester United
- 1x Club World Cup at Barcelona
Renowned for his arrogance and controversial stance on various issues, Zlatan compensates with top performances on the field. He’s widely regarded as one of the finest strikers in the game’s history. Still, contrary to what most casual football fans think, he’s not the oldest active soccer player around!
Ibra’s best goals at every age
Morten Gamst Pedersen – 40 years, 6 months
|Date of birth||September 8, 1981|
|Country of origin||Denmark|
|Career peak||Blackburn Rovers|
|Current club||Asane Fotball|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||97 / 111 / 618|
Internationally, the 40-year-old Norwegian impressed at Blackburn Rovers, where he played for 9 years. However, despite all his goals and assists, he couldn’t lead the English team to any laurels.
Pedersen’s trophies came later in his career when he returned from his European pilgrimage to play in the Norwegian league. More precisely, success came in 2015, when Pedersen won the domestic double (Norwegian League and Norwegian Cup) with Rosenborg BK.
Football runs in the family: Morten is the son of Ernst Pedersen, a former player in the Norwegian first league.
A Blackburn icon
In the 2000s, the Rovers were a tough team to play against, and Gamst Pedersen was often the opposition’s cause for concern. Check out his best goals for Blackburn.
Can Blackburn promote in 2022?
Blackburn is currently 4th in the FA Championship. Do you think they’ve got what it takes to earn a promotion back to the Premier League?
“Babygol” Roque Santa Cruz – 40 years, 6 months
|Date of birth||August 16, 1981|
|Country of origin||Paraguay|
|Career peak||Bayern, Man. City|
|Current club||Club Libertad Asunción|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||163 / 51 / 614|
Roque Santa Cruz is the oldest soccer player still playing and scoring goals in Paraguay. A detailed search on specialized stats websites might return some other names, players born in 1980 who’re still active in the domestic league. Still, none come close to what Santa Cruz has accomplished.
From a European fan’s point of view, Santa Cruz simply vanished after his 4 years at Manchester City, where he couldn’t adapt like he did at Bayern Munich. However, after this failed Premier League spell, the player continued to win trophies, albeit not in Europe’s most competitive leagues, but back home in Paraguay.
At just 18 years of age, in 1999, Roque Santa Cruz became the Footballer of the Year in Paraguay. Such a hot asset was bound to stir waters in Europe, and indeed Bayern Munich hurried to seal the deal with the teenage striker.
Bayern paid a then-record amount for a Paraguayan footballer, $7 million. Santa Cruz later revealed that he could have signed with Real Madrid, eventually opting for the Bavarian outfit. One wonders what Santa Cruz’s career might have looked like if he chose Madrid instead.
Although he has a Champions League medal in his portfolio, he was an unused substitution in the final. Other than that, at Bayern, he’s won the Bundesliga 5 times and 6 other domestic trophies.
A snippet of his recent days at Olimpia
Remarkably, Roque won 3 back-to-back domestic titles with Olimpia Asuncion from 2018 to 2020 and was crowned the league’s top scorer twice.
“Nenê” Anderson Luis de Carvalho – 40 years, 7 months
|Date of birth||July 19, 1981|
|Country of origin||Brazil|
|Current club||Vasco da Gama|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||195 / 112 / 708|
Although some reports spoke of Nenê as a retired footballer, he still plays in Brazil for second-tier Vasco da Gama at the age of 40. Is he the oldest soccer player still playing? Not by a distance. But the Brazilian is without a doubt among the fittest. He’s been a regular starter for Vasco this season and a key player, too, with 5 goals in 11 matches played.
Nenê, trophyless in his prime
Will we see Nenê on the field beyond 2022, when his contract for Vasco expires? It’s unlikely, given his age, but he might have a year or two left in him. After all, some Brazilian players are still playing at 44. Nene is well past his prime, but he’s still in good shape.
Although he’s accrued impressive goals and assists overall, Nene’s career has only seen him win a single trophy, the French league with Paris Saint-Germain. He didn’t survive for too long in PSG’s star-filled team.
You could argue that he was no longer a top player when he chose to move from PSG to Qatari side Al-Gharafa. Indeed, it was in 2015 that his career started going downhill.
Lucarne d’Evry challenge
Still, you cannot undo Brazilian genes.
Joaquín Sánchez Rodríguez – 40 years, 7 months
|Date of birth||July 21, 1981|
|Country of origin||Spain|
|Career peak||Valencia, Betis|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||108 / 101 / 799|
Aged 40, Joaquin is the oldest football player at Real Betis and the team’s captain. His 22-year career is deeply linked with the Andalusian club, having accrued a record number of appearances for them. While the current 2021-2022 season will be his last, Joaquin is undoubtedly proud of his journey with Betis and how it’s ending.
It’s been more than 20 years…
…since Joaquin played his first La Liga match. He is not only a Betis icon, but he’s also the second most capped player in La Liga. His 622 tally is only surpassed by goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta’s. He’s earned the respect of all Spanish football fans, and he’s welcomed with standing ovations on any ground.
Joaquin’s won the Copa del Rey trophy twice during his career, with 2 different teams, Betis (2005) and Valencia (2008).
This final season will be a special one for the Spanish player. Betis made it through to the Copa del Rey final, where they’ll meet Joaquin’s former team Valencia on April 23rd, 2022.
At the beginning of his professional career, he helped Real Betis get promoted back to the first tier. He played for Betis until 2006, then moved to Valencia for €25 million. After 10 years and a couple of seasons at Malaga and Fiorentina, he’s returned to his youth club, where he’s set to retire.
The player has recently become a shareholder at Betis. Once he hangs up his boots, he’ll continue to be involved at the club from his own investor’s office.
Record-breaker at 38
At 38 years and 140 days, Joaquin became the oldest player to score a hat-trick in La Liga, beating Alfredo di Stefano’s record dating from 1964.
5 Oldest Soccer Players Aged 41 to 44
The quest is on. Still, despite the age of these veterans, we haven’t found the oldest active soccer player just yet.
Jesús Corona 41 years, 1 month
|Date of birth||January 26, 1981|
|Country of origin||Mexico|
|Career peak||Cruz Azul|
|Current club||Cruz Azul|
|Total Clean Sheets / Appearances||210 / 699|
The 41-year-old goalkeeper is one of the oldest players still playing in high stakes matches. His club has just qualified for the North American Champions League semi-finals. Although Corona didn’t achieve greatness in Europe, he’s been a core asset of Cruz Azul for many years. He’s also earned 54 caps for the Mexican national team.
The Mexican veteran’s medals
Corona played at 3 World Cup tournaments with Mexico in 2006, 2014 and 2018. He also won the Gold Cup in 2010, and was part of the 2012 Olympic team.
He’s been playing for Cruz Azul since 2009, winning:
- 1x North American Champions League
- 1x Mexican Championship
- 1x Mexican League Cup
- 1x Mexican Cup
Need proof he’s good?
You might be more familiar with J. Ochoa, the other more popular goalkeeper from Mexico. Still, many believe that his value is overblown and that Corona should have been the no.1 choice for the national team.
“Ina” Junichi Inamoto – 42 years, 5 months
|Date of birth||Sep 18, 1979|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|Career peak||Fulham, Eintracht Frankfurt|
|Current club||Nankatsu SC|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||33 / 8 / 539|
Junichi Inamoto is a defensive midfielder currently playing for an amateur club in the Kanto League. He’s made a name for himself in Europe at Fulham, Arsenal, or Eintracht Frankfurt and won the Asian Cup with Japan in 2000. Now he’s working
Part of a real-life manga team
We know some of our readers love to watch anime TV shows, so you might be familiar with the story of Captain Tsubasa. The football-themed manga and anime were popular in the 90s and early 00s. If you’ve seen at least a few episodes, you know the leading character plays for Nankatsu SC.
However, it might surprise that a real-life soccer team bears this name, and veteran Junichi Inamoto wears their shirt!
Interestingly, the creator of the manga franchise, Yoichi Takahashi, is also the president of the real-life Nankatsu FC.
The nail in Manchester United’s coffin
Ina scored the third for Fulham in a historic 3-1 win at Old Trafford.
“Naka” Shunsuke Nakamura – 43 years, 8 months
|Date of birth||June 24, 1978|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|Current club||Yokohama FC|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||131 / 112 / 744|
Naka may have retired from international football in 2010. Still, the midfielder has continued to play in his native Japan until age 43. And he doesn’t seem to be looking to retire anytime soon, as the veteran midfielder has extended his contract with Yokohama FC for another year.
Fan-favourite on Celtic Park
Nakamura has played in Italy for Reggina at the beginning of his career, then moved to Celtic Park, where he became champion in 3 consecutive seasons between 2007 and 2009. He was a key player in Japan’s national team, scoring 24 goals in 98 caps.
His first and last trophies came while at Yokohama F. Marinos, the Japanese League Cup in 2001 and the Japanese Cup in 2013. Besides these collective triumphs, Nakamura won many other individual awards for his performances at Celtic Glasgow, Yokohama F. Marinos, and the Japanese national.
Dead ball specialist
At Celtic, Nakamura became renowned as one of the best free-kick takers in the world.
“Gigi” Gianluigi Buffon – 44 years, 1 month
|Date of birth||28 January 1978|
|Country of origin||Italy|
|Total Clean Sheets / Appearances||424 / 955|
Widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the game’s history and the record holder for the most clean sheets, Gianluigi Buffon is looking to become the oldest soccer player still playing. At 44 years old, he is the first-choice keeper for Serie B outfit Parma Calcio, where he started his career.
Gigi’s glory days
Gigi Buffon has played in Italy for most of his career, spending a single season outside the country. He only appeared 17 times for Paris Saint-Germain between 2018-2019, but he still won 2 trophies with the French side.
Buffon’s glory days started with a great season at Parma in ’98-’99. He won the UEFA Cup, the Italian Cup and the Italian Super Cup. In 2001 he was transferred by Juventus and kept the team’s goal safe for 17 years. During this time, he:
- Was crowned champion no less than 11 times
- Played in 3 UEFA Champions League finals
- Won the Italian Cup 5 times and the Super Cup 6 times
- Won the World Cup with Italy in 2006
- He was named Goalkeeper of the Year 8 times
A professional to the core, he was among the few players to remain at Juventus when the team was relegated, helping them achieve promotion back to the first tier in the 2006-2007 season.
Frustrating attackers for a living
Buffon is a tall and imposing keeper. He can make a 24-foot long goal look very small, as some of his spectacular saves prove.
Vitorino Hilton da Silva – 44 years 6 months
|Date of birth||13 September 1977|
|Country of origin||Brazil|
|Career peak||RC Lens, Montpellier|
|Current club||FC Sète 34|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||27 / 18 / 670|
The Brazilian defender has certainly enjoyed his stay in France. Up until now, he played for Lens, Montpellier, and Marseille in the first tier. We all thought he hung his boots for good when he left Montpellier in 2021. Still, Hilton returned to become the oldest professional soccer player in France.
Double French champion
Hilton belonged to a very unlikely epoch of French football when PSG didn’t win back-to-back titles with no real effort. He won the league with Marseille in 2010 and Montpellier in 2012. He’s also claimed the French League Cup and the French Super Cup with Marseille.
In 2017, at 39, Hilton became the oldest soccer player to score a goal in the French top-flight. However, his record would only last until 2018.
Hilton left Marseille in 2011 due to an armed robbery that targeted his home.
When Hilton retired in 2021, he had amassed 512 appearances in Ligue 1, establishing a new record for a foreign player. Later the same year, he changed his mind and stated his wish to return to the field. He’s currently serving his 5-month contract with third league outfit FC Sete 34.
Who Is the Oldest Soccer Player Still Playing?
Our quest is finally over. The oldest professional soccer player is King Kazu Miura.
Kazuyoshi ”King Kazu” Miura – 55 years
|Date of birth||February 26, 1967|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|Current club||Suzuka Point Getters|
|Total Goals / Assists / Appearances||190 / 5 / 681|
Where to even begin? King Kazu is a record-breaker as the oldest active soccer player. He’s been breaking his own record every year for some time now. Kazu’s career is older than the Japanese league itself! But his longevity doesn’t tell the whole story about him.
King Kazu’s beginnings
The forward started playing football in high school back in 1982. Since there was no professional league to play in, Miura migrated to Brazil to follow his dream. After completing his development at Juventus SP, he went on to play for 6 different Brazilian outfits until his return to Japan in 1990.
Back in his native land, he was signed by Verdy Kawasaki (now a second-tier team, Tokyo Verdy), scoring 100 goals in 192 games. After 8 years at the club, he was approached by Genoa in Serie A.
His 94-95 Italian adventure didn’t pan out as expected, but Kazu became the first Japanese player to appear in Serie A. Back in Japan, he had to wait until 1999 to have another go at European football with Dinamo Zagreb. Although he won the league, Croatian football wasn’t his Cup of tea, and subsequent trials at Bournemouth weren’t successful either.
Career restart at 38
In 2005, when he signed for Yokohama FC at the age of 38. When most players have hung their boots by now, he was bound for a new beginning.
During his first season at the team, his goals were instrumental for achieving promotion back into the first tier. Consistent performances while approaching 40 have slowly seen him gain legendary status in his homeland.
Miura debuted for the Japanese futsal team at the age of 45 and appeared at the 2012 Futsal World Cup for Japan, albeit with no significant accomplishments.
Summing up the oldest active soccer player’s triumphs
- 1x Asian Cup winner with the Japan national team
- 2x Japanese League
- 2x Japanese Super Cup
- 3x Japanese League Cup
- 1x Japanese Cup (all with Verdy Kawasaki between 1992-1996)
- 1x Croatian league with Dinamo Zagreb
- 1x Japanese second league winner with Yokohama FC
- 1x Oceania Champions League with Sydney FC
How good was he?
Special Mention. The Oldest Soccer Player Ever to Play the Game
We shouldn’t overlook the actual record-holder for the oldest soccer player ever. According to Guinness, the oldest footballer ever to play an official game is Ezzeldin Bahader, a 75-year-old former Egyptian player.
The story is replete with fun facts.
- Born on the 5th of November, he was registered at a third-tier club called ‘October 6’
- He was 74 years when he broke the record, previously held by an Israeli grandpa aged 73
- Folks at Guinness required the player to appear in 2 professional matches to validate his claim
While the Egyptian was not a professional player of the same calibre as the 33 entries in our list, we can’t help but salute his determination to play at 74 years old.
And what’s more, Bahader even scored a penalty in his record-breaking match. It’s a blatant case of match-fixing, but a charming one, nonetheless.
Wrapping Up the Football Veterans’ Inventory
We’re confident that we didn’t leave out any important baller from our oldest active soccer player index. Still, if you think there’s somebody we have omitted, feel free to voice your recommendations in the comment section!