Thiago Silva Heads Towards The Over 40s Club But Still Hugely Relevant
Brazilian defender Thiago Silva is still playing at the top level with Chelsea in the Premier League. How old is Thiago Silva? The Brazil international celebrated his 38th birthday in September 2022. However, the centre-back still looks as if he still has a place in the game. There have been rumours in sports news that he is even prepared to extend a contract at Stamford Bridge.
Silva will also be heading to the 2022 FIFA World Cup as part of Brazil’s hugely talented squad. With the wealth of experience that he has, Silva continues to defy the clock. Will he join a select club of players who will carry on playing the beautiful game into his 40s?
Thiago Silva Still Integral To Chelsea
Thiago Silva is still the first central defender at Chelsea to get his name on the team sheet. Or at least it looks that way. He may not be the quickest and no one would argue with that. However, he plays a very important role for the Blues.
Experience is easily worth a few yards of speed. Silva still reads the game well and is unafraid to put his foot or his head in where it may hurt. But it’s the experience of being able to anticipate and read the game, plus his leadership qualities that are vital at Chelsea.
Especially in the current times where he has also taken on the role of a mentor. Chelsea’s other main central defender options, Trevoh Chaloboah, Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana are all relative newcomers to the club. Chalobah made only 20 EPL appearances last season on his debut campaign in the top flight, while Koulibaly and Fofana only arrived in London during the summer.
Who better to learn from and settle down with than Silva? That’s the key to Chelsea leaning on Silva’s presence. He may be heading towards his 40s but he can teach those around him a great deal. That in turn still helps him still look head and shoulders above anyone he is currently playing alongside.
Will Thiago Silva Make The Over 40 Club?
Once players get to their early 30s, transfer market value for the most part starts to decline. It’s generally considered that players around that age are getting towards the twilight of their careers at the top level.
It’s generally the time as well when thoughts of a last big pay cheque from a move to somewhere like Japan or the MLS in the United States come to mind. But there are exceptions to every rule and some players have defied the years to continue at the top even into their fourth decade.
Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the first names that jump to mind. The longevity of the man and his unwavering ability continues to see him play in one of Europe’s top leagues. The 41-year-old is under contract with Serie A champions AC Milan.
He’s been around the block having played for Barcelona in La Liga, Manchester United in the Premier League and PSG in Ligue 1. When Ibrahimovic moved to the MLS to join LA Galaxy in 2018 it looked like that would be his final contract.
It wasn’t to be as AC Milan brought him back to Europe on a free transfer in late 2019. He was only drafted in until the end of the season initially. But the Swede has signed contract extensions that still sees him at the Serie A side after winning last season’s Scudetto.
Ibrahimovic is the only player to score in the UEFA Champions League with six different teams and has won league titles in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France.
Arguably one of the greatest defender’s ever. Maldini was a model professional and a one-club man with AC Milan. His career at the club lasted more than two decades and he set a new record for the most appearances in the top flight.
The fullback had style, pace and “Il Capitano” played on until retiring at the age of 41 back in 2009. International titles with Italy never came his way, however, Maldini won everything in front of him during his time with Milan.
Goalkeeper Buffon was eventually the man that broke Maldini’s record for most Serie A appearances. The legendary icon between the sticks hasn’t hung his gloves yet either, despite heading into his mid-40s.
Buffon’s professional career started as a 17-year-old and reached the heights of the game including a FIFA World Cup success with Italy in 2006 and a staggering 10 Scudetto titles at the club level. Buffon currently plays in Italy’s second tier with Parma.
There must be something in that Italian water, as another legend of the game to play beyond his 40th birthday was Francesco Totti. Like Maldini, Totti was a one-team man, staying with Roma throughout his career. He retired at the age of 40 as a club legend. The Romanista spent 25 years at the top with his club.
One of England’s legendary keepers between the sticks, Peter Shilton was closer to 50 than 40 when he retired. Still, no player has had more appearances for England than Shilton’s 125 caps. The last of those came in 1990, the year that he was brilliant for the Three Lions at Italia ‘90 when his side just fell short in the World Cup semi-finals. Shilton made 1005 league appearances at the club level, ending his career at Leyton Orient in the Old Third Division in 1997.
Sticking with England internationals, Teddy Sheringham didn’t hang up his boots until just past his 42 birthday. Sheringham was a bit of a late bloomer on the international scene, not earning his first cap until he was 27.
His final club was Colchester. Sheringham will forever have a place in the Premier League history books as he scored the first goal in the first-ever Sky Super Sunday broadcast in 1992.
Sir Stanley Matthews
England legend Stanley Matthews had a long career. It’s easy to forget just how long it was. Matthews began his career in 1932 with Stoke and his final appearance in England was in 1965 with the Potters, returning to the club after a long spell with Blackpool. Matthews was 50 when he played his last match for Stoke.
The Brazilian forward retired from the game at the age of 43 in 2015. Rivaldo’s long career came as a surprise to many considering that he was regarded as not being physically strong enough at the beginning. The former Barcelona player proved everyone wrong though, claiming individual honours like the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year.
We close out the list with another Italian. It’s another goalkeeper as well in the shape of Dino Zoff. The shot-stopper won the World Cup with the Azzurri in 1982, fourteen years after helping his country win their first-ever European Championship title. The Juventus man won several Serie A titles with The Old Lady.
Special Mention – Kazuyoshi Miura
Japan’s Kazuyoshi Miura may top them all, though. He is still playing professional football even into his mid-50s! It’s been a remarkable career for him and he was there for the launch of the J League back in the early 90s.
Miura played in the Brazilian top flight, and briefly in Europe with Genoa and Dinamo Zagreb. Japan’s first soccer superstar, “King Kaza”‘ is playing in the lower tiers in Japan, but still going strong.
Some Record Breakers
- Isaak Hayik set a new record for the oldest-ever professional player. He appeared at the age of 74 for Maccabi Or Yehuda.
- Ezzeldin Bahader became the oldest player in history in 2020 when he appeared in the Egyptian Third Division. He wasn’t a professional player though and only ever made two appearances. Bahader broke Hayik’s Guinness Book Of Records record though.
- Goalkeeper Marco Ballotta played just past his 43rd birthday in the UEFA Champions League, making him the oldest to feature in the competition. The Italian appeared for Lazio in the 2007/08 Group Stage and retired at the end of the season at the age of 44.
- Goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón who appeared for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup as a 43-year-old holds the record for the oldest World Cup player.
Currently recognised as the oldest active player in the world is Uruguayan Robert Carmona who turned 60 years old. He plays in central defence in the fourth tier with Hacerle Un Gol A La Vida.
Who like Thiago Silva, Looks Like Playing On?
So it is not that uncommon to find players playing well beyond their 40s. It’s less so finding them still plying their trade at the top levels of the game when retirement comes along. But when it happens, it’s usually player who earn cult status, a bit like Thiago Silva. There was a Thiago Silva song by British rappers Dave and AJ Tracey that broke the Top 40 in 2019. How long will he still be relevant in the modern game?
Also, it’s not just Silva of course. Others will get there. Who are some current players that look as if they could reach that 40 milestones at the top, alongside the Chelsea man? Robert Lewandowksi secured a summer move to Barcelona around his 34th birthday. That hints that Poland’s all-time leading scorer still has plenty of years at the top.
Cristiano Ronaldo is another that looks as if he will keep going and going, trying to chase further records in his career. While his huge wage demands may limit his chances of remaining in the top tiers of Europe for too much longer, but he’s likely to still court offers to play on.
Lionel Messi is another of the game’s modern greats who can probably go on. After leaving Barcelona for Ligue 1 side PSG, Messi still has plenty of time on his side, despite heading towards his 36th birthday in the summer of 2023.