- One player is the only one to have ever scored in Champions League as a forty-year-old
- Most of these entrants are from Italian clubs.
- Manchester United also has two veteran players who are prolific
Sir Alex Ferguson, the two-time Champions League winning manager was obsessed by the benefits of youth exuberance.
The legendary Manchester United manager gushed, “For young players there is nothing impossible.” There was always room for a professional with experience in Ferguson’s teams. Ferguson stated that while the younger players “will attempt to run through the barbed wire fence”, the older players “will seek out the gate”.
Even Ferguson could appreciate the fact that you can still find a net or gate at an elite European level, long after reaching your peak.
The oldest goalscorers of the Champions League
10. Paolo Maldini
Paolo Maldini appeared to improve with time. / Etsuo hara/Getty Images
Age : 36 Years and 3333 Days
Match : Milan 3-2 Liverpool (25/05/2005).
Paolo Maldini, who played in eight Champions League Finals before the 2005 showpiece with Liverpool against Liverpool is remembered for only that final.
The majority of people do not remember Maldini scoring the first goal at 36 years old, they recall the three-goal dramatic comeback that Liverpool achieved. Maldini’s five Champions League medals are at least a source of comfort.
9. Laurent Blanc
Laurent Blanc has only ever scored three Champions League Goals in his entire career. Ross Kinnaird/GettyImages
Age : 36 Years and 338 Days
Match: Olympiacos 2-3 Man Utd (23/10/2002)
Ferguson, the great youth promoter, reacted angrily to criticisms he had received after signing Laurent Blanc, 35, in 2001. Ferguson fumed, “People always talk about his age. But I have Steve Bruce and Bryan Robson playing key roles in this club at the age of 35 and 36.”
Blanc retired after only two years at United, much to Ferguson’s dismay. He still managed to score one European goal.
8. Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud looks good in Italy / Xavier Laine/GettyImages
Age : 37 Years and 38 Days
Match Milan PSG 2-1 (07/11/2023).
Olivier Giroud is one of the few players who can appreciate this cliche. The trained sommelier has never been one to be rushed and thrives in the slower pace of Italian football. He scored for AC Milan at home as well as abroad.
7. Edin Dzeko
Edin Dzeko scored in one of the biggest Milan derbies there has ever been / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages
Age : 37 Years and 54 Days
Match: Milan 0-2 Inter (10/05/2023)
Edin Dzeko, who led Inter in a victory against archrival Milan at the 2023 Italian Super Cup was asked what age he will be for his next birthday. He joked, “I am turning 22.”
The 37-year old (sorry Edin), beat Milan once again in the Champions League Semi-Final, which became known as the “EuroDerby”.
6. Luka Modric
Luka Modric, the oldest Real Madrid footballer to score in Champions League / Getty Images/Quality Sport Images
Age : 37 Years and 54 Days
Match : Real Madrid 5-0 Celtic (02/11/2022).
Luka modric will always be 45 days younger than Wayne Rooney.
Modric, the former England player who was now at DC United as his second coach, was scoring on the largest European stage for the most successful Champions League side in history.
5. Javier Zanetti
Javier Zanetti is Inter’s all-time leading appearance maker / Valerio Pennicino/GettyImages
Age : 37 Years and 72 Days
Match: Inter 4-3 Tottenham (20/10/2010)
You couldn’t tell the year by just looking at Javier Zanetti. The unflappable Argentine barely aged during his two glorious decades with Inter. He faithfully stuck to the same hairstyle.
Zanetti’s famous quiff was the closest it ever got to having a single stray hair on the night that he scored his final Champions League goal. Gareth Bale, a teenager from Tottenham Hotspur ran over the right-back and snatched his hair.
4. Filippo Inzaghi
Filippo Inzaghi’s last Champions League goals against a lofty opponent / Denis Doyle/GettyImages
Age : 37 Years and 87 Days
Match: Milan 2-2 Real Madrid (03/10/2010)
Filippo Inzaghi continued to hit the ball hard, even in the coldest winter of his life. Inzaghi, who had come off the Milan bench to play against Real Madrid and scored his second goal of the match, became the all-time leading scorer in the Champions League.
Inzaghi’s goal was scored behind Madrid’s defensive line, which reinforced the stereotypical image of a player who Ferguson had infamously and unjustly decried for being born offside. Inzaghi was fortunate to have aged out before the introduction of VAR.
3. Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs played for Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League final as a 37-year-old / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages
Age : 37 Years and 290 Days
Match: Benfica 1-1 Man Utd (14/09/2011)
Eric Cantona, former Manchester United player in 2012, said: “When I came, he played.” He’s still on the field 15 years after my retirement. It’s crazy.”
Cantona, who was in his 18th film at the time of Giggs’s final Champions League goal was also appearing on screen.
2. Francesco Totti
Nearly two decades separate Francesco Totti’s first and final European goals/Giuseppe Bellini/GettyImages
Age : 38 Years and 59 Days
Match CSKA Moscow 1-1 Roma 25/11/2014
Francesco Totti’s first European goal was scored for Roma even before DVDs were invented. Twitter was able to broadcast his last goal in the premier club competition of the content around the world.
Totti scored on some of the most prestigious stages during the transition between VHS and video streaming. Each goal was even sweeter because it came for the team he supported as a child.
Pepe still has a thumbs up in his 40th decade. / Getty Images/Octavio Passos
Age : 40 Years and 254 Days
Match: Porto 2-0 Antwerp
Pepe, a 40 year old who scored for Porto on the birthday of his mother said: “I don’t know how much time I have left. But I’ll do my best to honor this sport with what little I’ve got left.”