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5 best late bloomers of all time

Chelsea legend Didier Drogba
Chelsea legend Didier Drogba
Shambhu Ajith
FEATURED WRITER
Modified 24 Apr 2021

While breaking into the professional circuit at a very young age is seen as a big achievement, raising your levels in the latter years of your career is just as impressive.

Footballers are extraordinary athletes. These days, where we're getting more and more familiar with seeing teenagers break into the professional setup, a footballer is expected to hit his peak by the time he turns 25.

He will be at the peak of his physical and mental sharpness by the time he turns 25 and wowillave gained adequate knowledge and experience to be thorough with what he is supposed to do on a football pitch. However, that is just the general trend and we've seen many exceptions to that.

Some players, owing to a multitude of reasons, hit their peak much later and become incredible footballers in their latter years. Without further ado, let's take a look at five of the best late bloomers in football.


#5 Josip Ilicic - Atalanta

Atalanta BC v Torino FC - Serie A
Atalanta BC v Torino FC - Serie A

Not many Italian teams have surprised us in the recent past as much as Atalanta did in the 2019/20 season. They were in with a shout in the title race and it had a lot to do with several individuals stepping up and grabbing the opportunity to shine in an exciting team by the scruff of its neck.

Josip Ilicic was chief among those players. Ilicic scored a whopping 20 goals and provided five assists from 33 games across Serie A and UEFA Champions League last term and was arguably one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe last season.

Ilicic is now 33-years-old and he only started being a consistent performer in the 2017/18 season. Until then, the biggest impact he has had was in the 2015/16 season with Fiorentina, where he scored 13 goals and provided five assists in the league.

Even then, when you look at it, you can see that Ilicic simply started playing the best football after he turned 28.

That's the time around which a lot of players start to fade. Ilicic has been in good form this season as well, scoring six goals and providing eight assists in 25 appearances in the Serie A this term with nine of those appearances coming off the bench.

#4 Ciro Immobile - Lazio

SSC Napoli v SS Lazio - Serie A
SSC Napoli v SS Lazio - Serie A

The Lazio striker has been a journeyman for the majority of his career. After barely being given a chance at Juventus as a youngster, he spent unimpressive loan spells at Siena and Grosseto before impressing at Pescara.

Immobile has played for Genoa, Torino, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Lazio since and only produced anything of note in his Torino stint. Immobile had turned 27 by the time he had a great goalscoring season. That was the first time that people started taking him seriously as a striker.

But at the age of 27, he wasn't viewed as a 'promising prospect'. However, the Italian international only went from strength to strength from there and won the European Golden Shoe last season for being the top scorer in all the leagues in Europe.

The 31-year-old has scored 22 goals and provided five assists across all competitions for Lazio this term as well and it looks like he has quite a few more years left in the tank.

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Published 24 Apr 2021
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