The best over-35 players in world football - ranked

Tom Gott
Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains at the top of his game
Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains at the top of his game / Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Father Time is often seen as a footballer's worst enemy. Questions are asked once a player turns 30, and when their 35th birthday arrives, it's usually accepted that the boots will be hung up sooner rather than later.

However, that's not always the case. Modern medicine has made it easier for players to extend their playing careers, and there are plenty of stars still dominating the game past their 35th birthday.

Here are ten of the best players aged 35 and over in world football right now.

10. Giorgio Chiellini

Staying fit has been Chiellini's biggest problem
Staying fit has been Chiellini's biggest problem / Silvia Lore/Getty Images

Injuries have robbed us of the chance to see Juventus icon Giorgio Chiellini in regular action over the past few years, so it's tough to know just how good the 36-year-old still is.

While there's no doubting that the Italian isn't the defender he once was, we've still seen some glimpses of real quality from Chiellini, but they've been mixed in with a couple of moments which have reminded us that he's approaching the end of his career.

If his body hadn't let him down, he may well be higher on this list.

9. Laurent Koscielny

Koscielny continues to impress back in France
Koscielny continues to impress back in France / Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

After his Arsenal career came to a disappointing end, Laurent Koscielny has proven that he still has what it takes to play at a high level with Bordeaux.

A regular part of one of France's meanest defences, 35-year-old Koscielny is still capable of putting in plenty of impressive performances, but he's also able to do so on a regular basis.

When a player is coming towards the end of their career, being available for selection is often a chore in itself, but it's no problem for Koscielny.

8. Andrés Iniesta

Iniesta continues to impress in Japan
Iniesta continues to impress in Japan / Hiroki Watanabe/Getty Images

Andrés Iniesta has always oozed quality, and he always will do.

While there are fair concerns over the fact that the 36-year-old is playing in Japan, there's no denying that he's still pulling the strings.

Iniesta's numbers for goals and assists have improved with each passing season since he moved to Vissel Kobe, and he's showing no signs of slowing down.

7. José Fonte

Fonte has been key for Lille
Fonte has been key for Lille / Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Remember when West Ham had us believe that José Fonte was washed up in 2018?

After a brief spell in China, Fonte came back to Europe with Lille in July 2018, and that's just so happened to coincide with Lille's emergence as one of France's top teams.

37-year-old Fonte has led his side out in both the Champions League and Europa League, proving that West Ham were wrong about him.

6. Santi Cazorla

Cazorla swapped Villarreal for Al-Sadd
Cazorla swapped Villarreal for Al-Sadd / Simon Holmes/Getty Images

Santi Cazorla's story is an inspiring one. An ankle injury, coupled with a nasty infection, had the Spaniard fearing he might lose the ability to walk or perhaps even lose his leg.

After years of rehabilitation, not only did Cazorla make it back on to a football pitch, but he proved himself as one of La Liga's best midfielders between 2018 and 2020.

He's now tearing it up in Qatar with Al-Sadd. Not bad for someone who was supposed to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

5. Fernandinho

Fernandinho has proven to be irreplaceable
Fernandinho has proven to be irreplaceable / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

He may not be able to cover as much ground these days, but Fernandinho is still a reliable midfield anchor who has showcased the ability to drop into defence to prolong his career.

Fernandinho's importance to City has been amplified in the last few years as a result of Rodri's early struggles, but he's now getting the credit he has always deserved.

4. Thiago Silva

Thiago Silva moved to Chelsea in the summer
Thiago Silva moved to Chelsea in the summer / DeFodi Images/Getty Images

A 35-year-old Thiago Silva led Paris Saint-Germain to the 2019/20 Champions League final and helped restrict Bayern Munich to just one goal.

Now 36, the Brazilian has swapped the Parc des Princes for Stamford Bridge, where he is seen by many as the ideal man to fix Chelsea's many, many defensive issues.

Not only can he still perform to a high level, but his experience and influence help make his team-mates better too.

3. Luka Modrić

Modric is still key for Real
Modric is still key for Real / Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Despite turning 35 in September, Luka Modrić continues to be an integral part of Real Madrid's first team.

The 2018 Ballon d'Or winner isn't the guaranteed starter he once was, but that's not because he doesn't play like one. He's still capable of dictating games and popping up with a crucial goal or assist at vital moments.

Making an impact at the Santiago Bernabéu is easier said than done, but to still be able to do it at 35 is almost unheard of.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimović

Ibrahimovic has been outstanding for Milan
Ibrahimovic has been outstanding for Milan / Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Taking a bit of a jump up in age, we have 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimović, who has been scoring goals for fun since his return to Europe in January 2020.

The Swede has almost single-handedly dragged AC Milan back to relevancy after years of being lost in mid-table obscurity, scoring big goal after big goal to drag I Rossoneri to victories.

It must take somebody pretty special to finish ahead of the Swede, right?

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo is in a league of his own
Ronaldo is in a league of his own / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

With all due respect to the others on this list, Cristiano Ronaldo is simply on a level of his own when it comes to players over 35, and perhaps even players of any age.

He scored 37 goals in all competitions last season as Juventus won their bazillionth Serie A title, and he's also still the focal point of the Portuguese national team's attack, proving that he can steal the show on any stage.

Blessed with the kind of fitness most younger players can only dream of, who knows how long Ronaldo can keep this up for?

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