The best of Europe clash on the international stage from the 10th of June as several nations vie for pride and bragging rights for the next four years. Deep amongst the range of teams looking to make their mark on the European stage, there are a few stalwarts of the game who will perhaps take to this stage for the final time this tournament. Looking at the oldest players participating in Euro 2016, it takes a while to soak in the span of some careers that have expanded into decades for some.
Here are the 10 oldest players participating in Euro 2016, listed in order of their age as of 10th June 2016 (when the competition officially begins):
#10 Jean-Francois Gillet (Belgium) – 37 Years & 10 Days Old
Jean-Francois Gillet isn’t one of the most illustrious names on the list, but certainly is the youngest. Currently owned by Catania and on loan with Belgian side Mechelen, Gillet is in the Belgium squad as backup to Thibaut Courtois and one could even argue Simon Mignolet for the UEFA European Championships 2016.
At 37 Years & 10 Days, you can’t really call him all that young, but he isn’t that off the grid considering he is a goalkeeper and that keepers tend to have a longer playing span than the other outfield players. Having played professionally for 20 years now, with his debut coming for Standard Liege at age 17, Gillet has spent most of his career in the Serie A with clubs such as Bari, Bologna and Torino before joining Catania.
His National Team debut was eventful with the Belgian keeper having saved a penalty from David Villa before letting 5 into the net past him in that very game. He has 9 appearances for the Belgian side. Even though you don’t expect him to add to that count much in the future, he will step into the Euros as an esteemed senior citizen.
#9 Vyacheslav Shevchuk (Ukraine) – 37 Years & 28 Days Old
For most people, it won’t be too much of a let down that they don’t really know as to who he is but back home in Ukraine, Vyacheslav Shevchuk has a following and a trail of trophies to speak for him and his career. With four Ukrainian Titles, 7 Ukranian Cups and a UEFA Cup to his name, Shevchuk has had a distinguished club career, the bulk of which has been with Shakhtar Donetsk.
In the club team, he is seen as an experienced and reliable backup to some of the other players who start. However, for his national side, he is the first choice at left back and his ability to play center back comes in handy as well.
For his age, a grand 37 years and 28 days, Shevchuk is in fine physical shape and one might notice him holding fort for Ukraine in the Euros this season. He makes it as second youngest on this list.
#8 Zoltan Gera (Hungary) – 37 Years, 1 Month & 19 Days Old
A player who Premier League fans may remember as a former West Brom and Fulham player, Zoltan Gera wowed a bunch at Craven Cottage with his impressive technique, speed and ability to turn up with important goals when the team really needed it.
His most prominent performances, however, came for West Bromwich Albion in his first of two spells as his goals and assists helped the Baggies stay up in the Premier League after a season battling relegation before they were eventually relegated and he helped them regain promotion to the top flight after.
His second spell at West Brom was completely ravaged by injuries. Currently at Hungarian side, Ferencvaros, Gera is expected to play an important part in the National Side’s Euro bid. With 89 appearances, he is one of Hungary’s most experienced players and at 37 Years, a month and 19 days, he makes it to this list as the 3rd youngest.
#7 Eidur Gudjohnsen (Iceland) – 37 Years, 8 Months & 26 Days Old
Yes, believe it or not, Eidur Godjohnsen is still alive and kicking a football professionally. The Icelandic International has had a long and decorated career with his profesional debut coming at 16 years of age for local club Valur. Since then, he has played for PSV Eindhoven, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea, Barcelona, Monaco, Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke City, Athens and the list goes on.
The journeyman is currently stationed at Norwegian side, Molde and he continues to be an important part of the Iceland National Team setup. Having been drawn out of retirement a year back, Gudjohnsen at 37 Years, 8 Months and 26 Days, turns as the 4th youngest on this list. Certainly not bad for a guy who nearly ended up being substituted in for his father for the National Team in a friendly some 21 years ago. Not bad at all!
#6 Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal) – 38 Years & 23 Days Old
Another experienced campaigner, some of the readers might remember, is Ricardo Carvalho. The Portuguese International has been an undisputed leader for his national side for a long time now. His decorated career across leagues has seen him win titles with Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid. He continues to be a focal point for a top side in Monaco in the French League.
At 38 Years and 23 Days of age, Carvalho’s hairline has receded aplenty from the time he debuted for his national side. With his legs giving away, the center back has taken solace in the searing intensity of his tactical intelligence which still holds him as a force to reckon with. With his national team calling upon him often in the time of need, Euro 16 seems to be a bit of a swansong for Carvalho as he considers calling time on an illustrious career that has seen him compared by many to Franco Baresi.
Whether Baresi or not, Carvalho for a distinguished career should be given a rousing appraisal on his way out and it begins with him making this list as the 5th youngest.
#5 Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) – 38 Years, 4 Months & 13 Days Old
There’s something about these Italians! They seem to get better and better with age. Gigi Buffon doesn’t seem to be tiring at all. At 38 Years, 4 Months and 13 Days Old, he will be leading his country into the Euro 16 as captain of the national side. He also remains first choice and captain of his club team Juventus.
The Italian Legend, whose legacy grows with every passing year, will hope to play and win what could be his last Euros (yet with Gigi, you’d never know). The Italian side is far from the tournament favorite but with Gigi in goal, it’d take opposition forwards some trying to breach the Italian defense in totality.
Expected to play till the 2018 World Cup, Buffon’s final Euro campaign will be an event in itself for him. The veteran keeper has carried club and country on his shoulders for long. As the 6th youngest on this list, Gigi is showing the world, how it’s done.
#4 Roy Carroll (Northern Ireland) – 38 Years, 8 Months & 11 Days Old
Remember Roy Carroll? Yes yes, the same guy who coolly allowed a shot from the halfway line to go over his goal line before scooping it out and denying Tottenham a goal in the process! Roy Carroll has had a rather long career and has had his share of goalkeeping gaffes to talk about.
The former Hull City, Wigan Athletic, Manchester United, West Ham United, Rangers and Derby County man has been a long serving presence in the Premier League as well. His career in the Premier League was a start-stop affair with injuries, gaffes and poor form riddling his talent as a keeper. However, he has been a strong presence for his national team.
Carroll has always had a fight on his hands to be his nation’s preferred keeper, a battle he hasn’t always won but continues to fight in the Euros 16 with Michael McGovern being the preferred choice. However, it seems a likely prospect that the Northern Irishman will make an appearance in the Euros considering how hard he is pushing his younger compatriot for his spot. He makes this list with ease missing out on the top three in here by a shade, a mere 5 days.
#3 Orges Shehi (Albania) – 38 Years, 8 Months & 16 Days Old
Orges who? Don’t worry, he’s not a regular fixture in the European side of international football considering his country Albania have rarely been in this tournament before. No, that doesn’t really mean to demean their presence. In fact, it’s a tribute to the fairy tale run this incredible team has embarked upon to gate crash the Euro party.
Orges Shehi started for the Albanian team that finished bottom of qualifying for 2012’s edition of the Euros and the 2014 World Cup, now he is part of a team that finished second in its group for the qualifying phase of this tournament. His position in the squad is no longer as sealed as it used to be, however, Shehi will be glad that he is part of the squad that is set to make history. An emotional moment for the man who will be 38 Years, 8 Months and 16 Days Old once the tournament starts, that should remain with him when he finally retires in the future and perhaps even for all the days that he lives.
#2 Shay Given (Republic of Ireland) – 40 Years, 1 Month & 21 Days Old
Shay Given still soldiers on for the Republic of Ireland as a starting goalkeeper and the guy simply refuses to age if simply seen on the face of things. However, this Euro edition will probably finally see a change of guard as an aging Given could finally pass the baton to a younger Darren Randolph, who could start the competition as the first choice keeper.
Given has had a good career. He’s played for Blackburn, Newcastle, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Stoke City in the Premier League. With time beginning to catch up with the Newcastle favorite, he could see this tournament as an easing out of the national setup. He continues to be backup and mentor to Jack Butland at Stoke and has another year to go on that contract.
At 40 Years, 1 Month and 21 Days Old, Given could’ve been the list topper from the oldie perspective had a guy who’s around 19 days older not decided to crash his party. He is the 9th youngest on this list (essentially second oldest but let’s be polite).
#1 Gabor Kiraly (Hungary) – 40 Years, 2 Months & 9 Days Old
This list is like a morgue full of swansongs for some of Europe’s oldest players who seem to be set to calling time on their careers soon after this tournament. With Gabor Kiraly, you’d never really be able to say for sure that is to be the case. With 103 appearances for Hungary at the International Stage, Gabor Kiraly seems set to continue for the longest time possible.
A cult favorite in his premiership days, particularly at Crystal Palace and Fulham, the shot-stopper is likeliest to break a long-standing European record should he make an appearance. At 40 Years, 2 Months and 9 Days old, Gabor Kiraly could beat Lothar Matthaus’ record as the oldest player to have played in the tournament.
While the attention seems to be going his way over the years for his jogging pants stunt in the Premier League, Gabor Kiraly could make do with a nice record to his name, he already makes the top of this list as the oldest player participating in the Euros. Whether he becomes the oldest to appear in one, remains to be seen.
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