In comparison to other professions, the career of a footballer is a short one, the average player will retire by the age of 35. So you can forgive footballers for wanting to play as long as they can, especially when big financial gains can be made overseas. In recent years top, top players have moved to China and the United States to use their high profile name, to earn huge amounts of cash and also help develop the sport in the region, but more importantly, keep playing. We’ve taken a look at some former stars who you probably didn’t know were playing professional football.
Former Chelsea star Michael Essien was once one of the best midfielders in the world and aged 36, he’s still playing. After a career that also saw him represent Real Madrid and AC Milan, he now plays in the Azerbaijan Premier League for Sabail FK.
Bastian Schweinsteiger moved to Man United in 2015, but never got the opportunities to showcase his talents he showed at Bayern Munich for 13 years. So, in 2017 he made the move to Chicago Fire and is a season regular at the age of 35.
A World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002, defender Lucio is remembered for being one of the hardest players of his generation. Since leaving Inter Milan in 2012, he has had a host of spells at different clubs in Brazil, and now plies his trade at Brasiliense at the tender age of 41!
Aged 38, former Arsenal and Barcelona star Alexander Hleb is still playing professional football. He is now representing Isloch Minsk Raion in the Belarusian Premier League.
Gyan was Africa’s hero at the 2010 World Cup as he helped Ghana reach the quarter-finals. Thanks to his performances he got himself a move to Sunderland but things didn’t work out so well and he moved to UAE side Al-Ain.After a number of other moves, in 2017 he transferred to Turkey to play for Kayserispor. He stayed there until August 2019 and he’s now a free agent looking for his next club.
Many believed that Claudio Pizarro’s 2007 move to Chelsea at the age of 29 was to be the final big transfer of his career. However, 11 years late, at the age of 40, the Peruvian forward is still going strong and is playing for Werder Bremen in his fourth spell at the club.
Landon Donovan was the face of US soccer for a number of years. Aged 37, after spells in Europe and Mexico, he’s now playing for the San Diego Sockers in the Major Arena Soccer League.
Lukas Podolski’s career, which saw him earn 130 caps for Germany, has seen him play for the likes of Bayern Munich and Arsenal. Aged 34, he’s now on the books of Japanese club Vissel Kobe.
Like Podolski, former Spain and Barcelona superstar Andres Iniesta is also playing for Japanese club Vissel Kobe, aged 35.
Rounding off the contingent of legends playing for Vissel Kobe is David Villa. Aged 37, he’s still scoring goals over in Japan.
Roque Santa Cruz
Aged 38, former Bayern Munich and Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz is now playing in his home nation of Paraguay for Olimpia.
Former Manchester City and Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez has had quite the career and he’s continuing it back in Argentina with Boca Juniours, the side he made his professional debut for back in 2001.
Daniele De Rossi
One of Tevez’s teammates is former Roma star Daniele De Rossi. The Italian ended his 18 year spell in Rome earlier this year as he moved to Argentina.
Aged 38, former Inter Milan and Manchester City full-back Maicon is still playing in his homeland, for Brazilian side Criciúma.
Another former Brazilian international, Robinho is still playing at the age of 35, for Turkish club İstanbul Basaksehir.
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