Eleven ageing legends who will grace Euro 2016

Date published: Sunday 5th June 2016 2:59

Robbie Keane

There are some great 34-plus players at this summer’s tournament. We have discounted goalkeepers because they can play well into their 70s…

 

Patrice Evra (35)
A headline on one website in May 2014 reads ‘Meet the French left-back set to make Patrice Evra sweat for his World Cup place’. Sweat? Lucas Digne did not even make Evra glow in 2014 and now in 2016, Evra is still France’s first-choice left-back, two years after he was sold by Manchester United for just £1.5m. Evra will play in his fifth successive international tournament for France this summer, His last? With a two-year contract extension at Juventus on the table, then maybe not?

 

Razvan Rat (35)
With 111 caps, Rat is behind only three players – Dorinel Munteanu, Gheorghe Hagi and Gheorghe Popescu – in a list of most-capped Romanians. Now captain and still first-choice left-back, Rat will face France in the opening game of Euro 2016, over 14 years since he made his international debut against the same opposition.  Having missed most of Rayo Vallecano’s season through injury, Rat will be fresh as a daisy this summer, even at the age of 35. He’s not even the oldest outfield member of Romania’s squad, thanks to Lucian Sanmartean.

 

Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (37)
The one minute he played at the end of Ukraine’s victory over Albania on Saturday marked his 142nd cap; we’re pretty sure that by now he has earned the right to turn up and play a minute for Ukraine whenever he fancies it. Sod Andrey Shevchenko, the lusciously blonde-locked Tymoshchuk is Ukraine’s football darling, and it will be a sad day in Kiev when he hangs up his boots, 16 years after he first made his debut.

 

Tomas Rosicky (35)
Poor Tomas Rosicky has played just 19 minutes of football for Arsenal this season so of course he is going to Euro 2016 as the Czech Republic’s captain. And of course he scored in a 2-1 win over Russia last week. Rosicky is so old that he deputised for the suspended Patrick Berger at Euro 2000.

 

Darijo Srna (34)
Anybody wondering why Croatia would face San Marino in the build-up to Euro 2016 need only look at the list of goalscorers in the 10-0 win; clearly it was arranged purely to give Darijo Srna his 22nd international goal, almost three years after his last. Remarkably, Srna is his country’s fourth-highest goalscorer despite playing much of his career at right-back. This summer, he will play in his sixth major tournament. Respect is due.

 

Andrea Barzagli (35)
“I’ll leave the Azzurri after the Euros. It’s right to give the younger players a chance,” said Barzagli, who has actually only amassed 55 caps in 12 years, largely because a disastrous Euro 2008 saw several under-performing players banished to the naughty step until they had learned their lesson. These days, Barzagli’s positional sense – and a formation that is a kind to an ageing man – means that he can still play for both Juventus and Italy at the highest level.

 

Robbie Keane (35)
The Irish line-up for Keane’s international debut in 1998 should make him feel old; he came off the bench to join Garry Kelly, Kenny Cunningham, Lee Carsley and of course Shay Given against the Czech Republic. Over 18 years and 143 caps later and he is in an Ireland squad for a third major tournament, though injury and competition for places means that he has not donned a green shirt since October. Even his namesake Roy will not be able to keep him off the pitch in France if declares himself fit.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (34)
Just the 62 goals in 112 games for Sweden for Zlatan, who has – in his own words – ‘put Sweden on the world map’. ABBA may disagree. Astonishingly, that ridiculous record includes a two-year international goal drought. There are no such droughts now, with the soon-to-be Manchester United striker scoring eight goals in Euro 2016 qualifying and then three times in the play-off win over Denmark. It must hurt that Kim Kallstrom still has significantly more caps.

 

Ricardo Carvalho (38)
The oldest outfield player at Euro 2016 still looked pretty bloody good against England on Thursday night. Carvalho has only 85 caps because he a) did not play for his country until the age of 25 and b) was discarded for three years, but he is now back firmly in the fold alongside Portugal’s new defensive generation of Pepe (33), Bruno Alves (34) and Jose Fonte (32).

 

Eidur Gudjohnsen (37)
Over 20 years after making his Iceland debut, Gudjohnsen will play in his first major tournament. After retiring from international football after the World Cup play-off failure of November 2013, Gudjohnsen return in May 2015 to score against Kazakhstan as their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign gathered pace. His place still wasn’t assured. “If he hadn’t found a club, he would not have been picked,” said Iceland manager Lars Lagerback, who could not resist Iceland’s football hero after he earned himself a contract at Norwegian club Molde. You can’t help but he happy he will be there. At last.

 

Zoltán Gera (37)
To answer all your questions in order: Yes, he is still alive. Yes, he is still playing. And yes, he is back in Hungary with Ferencvaros after finally ending his bizarre love affair with West Brom. Still in decent fettle, Gera has started 29 league games this season in central midfield – no mean feat at his age. This will be his first and last major tournament for Gera, who will be joined in France by Gabor Kiraly – 40 and still rocking those tracksuit bottoms.

 

Sarah Winterburn

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