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Who is the oldest football player ever to play in the World Cup?

The World Cup 2022 is currently running, and we have an incredible winter of football to enjoy as the top countries in the world compete to win the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

There will undoubtedly be some outstanding skill on display because the finest players also represent the greatest nations.  Veteran athletes like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and many others will play, and they have all matured like exquisite wines.

Here is the top 10 list of the oldest footballers to play at the FIFA World Cup:

1. Essam El-Hadary (Egypt): 45 years, 161 days

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Essam El-Hadary made his FIFA World Cup debut against Saudi Arabia in 2018 at the age of 45 years and 161 days, 22 years after making his Egypt debut.

Before their encounter against Saudi Arabia, the Pharaohs had lost to Uruguay and Egypt in their group games. In the first half, Egypt would have lost against Saudi Arabia because of El-outstanding Hadary’s stop off Fahad Al-penalty Muwallad’s kick. Egypt was in difficulty against the Saudis.

On that particular day, Essam El-Hadary not only made history as the oldest player to ever compete at the FIFA World Cup, but he also made history as the oldest debutant and the first African goalkeeper to save a penalty shot. El-Hadary played 159 times for Egypt during his time abroad. Between 2006 and 2010, he was a member of the Egyptian teams that captured three AFCON championships.

2. Faryd Mondragon (Colombia): 43 years, 3 days

When Faryd Mondragon of Colombia took the field for Colombia’s last group match against Japan in 2014, he was 43 years and three days old, making him the oldest player to compete at the FIFA World Cup before Essam El-Hadary in 2018.

However, Faryd Mondragon still owns a few records. Before competing in 2014, Faryd Mondragon participated in the 1998 World Cup for Colombia. The gap between two World Cup games was the longest ever for a player.

The Colombian, who was on the bench during Colombia’s 2-1 quarterfinal loss to Brazil in 2014, is also the oldest player left in the FIFA World Cup playoffs. Soon after Colombia was eliminated, Mondragon made his retirement announcement.

3. Roger Milla (Cameroon): 42 years, 39 days

At 42 years and 39 days old, Roger Milla of Cameroon ranks third among the oldest football players to compete in the FIFA World Cup. He is the only striker to appear in the top five, though.

In a 6-1 thrashing by Russia in the 1994 group stage, Milla scored Cameroon’s lone goal. Oleg Salenko of Russia set the record for the most goals scored by a single player in a FIFA World Cup game with five goals in the same game. Over the course of 77 games and a more than 20-year career, Roger Milla scored 43 goals.

4. Formiga (Brazil): 41 years and 112 days

At 41 years and 112 days old, Brazilian midfielder Formiga became the oldest player to compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup during Brazil’s 2019 quarterfinal loss to France, which they also lost 2-1.

Formiga is the only athlete to have participated in seven FIFA World Cups in both men’s and women’s competitions. She has also played in seven Olympic Games, making her the first female football player to do so. She made her Brazilian debut in 1995 and left the team in 2021 after participating in 234 games.

5. Pat Jennings (Northern Ireland): 41 years

When he was onto the field in the 1986 World Cup group stage encounter against powerful Brazil, Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings was 41 years old.

As was to be expected, the Brazilian team celebrated by defeating the birthday boy 3-0 and scoring three goals in the process. After participating in 119 games for his nation between 1964 and 1986, Pat Jennings announced his retirement the same year.

6. Peter Shilton (England): 40 years, 292 days

England goalkeeper Peter Shilton made history in 1990 by becoming the oldest player to play in a World Cup match. Shilton is best known for being the goalkeeper against whom the famous Maradona scored the “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup final.

When Peter Shilton led England against Italy in the third-place play-off in 1990, England lost 2-1. Shilton was 40 years and 292 days old. After the World Cup, Shilton announced his retirement, but not before earning 125 caps for England’s men from 1970 to 1990.

7. Dino Zoff (Italy): 40 years, 133 days

Italian former goalkeeper and professional football player Dino Zoff. At 40 years, 4 months, and 13 days old, he is the oldest World Cup winner in history. He won the competition as the captain of the Italian national team in 1982.

He was also named the best goalkeeper of the competition and selected to the squad of the competition for his efforts, which included two clean sheets. He again received this honor after winning the 1968 European Championship at home.

The only Italian athlete to win the World Cup and the European Championship is Zoff. With Juventus, he also had considerable success on the club level, winning six Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia titles, and a UEFA Cup, making it to the finals of the European Champions Cup in 1972–73 and 1982–83 and coming in second in the 1973 Intercontinental Cup final.

8. Ali Boumnijel (Tunisia): 40 years, 71 days

Former goalkeeper and professional football player from Tunisia named Ali Boumnijel. He serves as an assistant coach for Sochaux. He represented the Tunisian national team internationally.

He made his debut for the national team on November 27, 1991, against Côte d’Ivoire. He continued to play for Tunisia at 1998, 2002, and 2006 FIFA World Cups after establishing himself as a capable goalkeeper.

The goalkeeper of choice for Tunisia, Boumnijel, participated in the 2004 African Nations Cup, which the Tunisian team won. He helped Tunisia defeat Nigeria in a penalty shootout in the semifinals by blocking a critical penalty shot from Peter Odemwingie. Boumnijel, who was the oldest player at the 2006 FIFA World Cup at the age of 40, has received praise for his outstanding leadership and goalkeeping abilities.

9. Jim Leighton (Scotland): 39 years, 334 days

Former Scottish professional goalkeeper James Leighton played football professionally. Leighton began his professional career at Aberdeen, where he played for Alex Ferguson’s team and won seven domestic championships as well as the 1982–83 European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Ferguson later acquired Leighton for Manchester United in 1988 but let him go following the 1990 FA Cup Final when he gave up three goals. Leighton later had time with Arsenal, Reading, Dundee, and Sheffield United before joining Hibernian in 1993 and rebuilding his career. His return to Aberdeen in 1997 resulted in a career total of more than 600 league-only appearances.

Leighton represented Scotland in 91 international games. He participated in the final three of 1982, 1986, 1990, and 1998 FIFA World Cups after being selected for Scotland’s teams in each of those years.

10. David James (England): 39 years, 330 days

David Benjamin James, a former goalkeeper for the English national team, played professionally in football. In 2018, he served as manager of Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League, which was his most recent post.

He played in the FA Cup Final in 2010 at the age of 39, becoming the oldest goalie to do so. To play for Bristol City in 2010 and AFC Bournemouth in League One, James dropped down a league. Before formally retiring, he joined the Icelandic team BV Vestmannaeyjar in 2013 as a combined player and coach.

Between 1997 and 2010, he received 53 caps for England, and he started as a goalkeeper for the team’s World Cup and Euro 2004 campaigns. For his contributions to football and charity, he was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours.

Read: Top 10 biggest upsets in FIFA World Cup history

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