When Zlatan Ibrahimović and Gianluigi Buffon retired, it felt like the era of footballers from the 2000s had come to an end. However, there are still players in the world of football who are over 40 years old and continue their active careers. Here is a trio of the most intriguing characters who have reached the age of 40 but are still actively playing.
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Rocé Santa Cruz, 42
Club: Club Libertad, Paraguayan Primera Division
While the Paraguayan striker is best known for his time at Bayern Munich, he also did an impressive job with Blackburn Rovers, scoring almost 30 goals in two seasons.
Surprisingly, even at the age of 42, Santa Cruz maintains a respectable record. Since 2019, he has scored 65 goals for Olimpia and Club Libertad. It’s interesting to note that Santa Cruz has been signing one-year contracts with his clubs since 2016.
This season, the forward, who also played in the 2002 World Cup, has seen a decline in his playing time, often coming on as a substitute for the last 15-20 minutes. However, he ended a goalless streak in the league with a goal and an assist in a match against Guairense.
Lisandro López, 40
Club: Sarmiento, Argentine Primera Division
The story of this Argentine forward, who you may remember from his time at Porto and Lyon, is one of the most extraordinary in football. Lopez’s career has been interrupted by personal problems, including the death of his father, which led him to leave Atlanta United after just two matches. After initially announcing his retirement, he returned to his hometown club, Racing.
López, at 40, currently captains the team, but his statistics in 2023 are not very impressive, with just 2 goals and 1 assist in 27 matches, along with 7 yellow cards.
Felipe Melo, 40
Club: Fluminense, Campeonato Brasileiro Série A
Felipe Melo’s name recently resurfaced in football discussions due to Olivier Giroud’s impressive performance in goal for Milan. In 2012, a similar story unfolded when Melo not only took over as a goalkeeper in a Turkish league match but also saved a penalty.
Melo is best remembered for his midfield play with clubs like Juventus, Inter Milan, and the Brazilian national team. Now he plays in central defense for Fluminense. Although he doesn’t have a guaranteed starting position, this year, he participated in 39 matches for Fluminense, which is currently in 7th place in the Brazilian league.
In an interesting incident in June this year, during a Copa Libertadores match against River Plate, Melo was involved in a scandal. During the match, he mimicked a rooster’s gesture towards the home crowd. The Argentine police intervened and issued a warning to Felipe for his provocative gesture, which took place in the dressing room after the match.