Top 5 Oldest Players to play a UEFA Euro fixture

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Ronaldo continues to shatter records in European football

The UEFA Euro has been the hotbed for discovering the next generation’s talents but it has also played host to some incredible performances from seasoned pros over the years. UEFA Euro 2024 has been no different either, with the likes of Pepe making their mark in a Portuguese team filled with superstars across the top European leagues.

There is nothing better than ageing like fine wine and in this article, we take a look at the oldest players who have featured in a match at the Euros over the years:

#5 Morten Olsen

Featuring for Denmark at the age of 38 years and 308 days in the UEFA Euro 1988, Morten Olsen is regarded as one of the most important players in Danish football history and is only one of the two men in football to have both played and coached over 100 games for their country.

Having primarily played as a defensive midfielder, Olsen represented Denmark in the 1984 and 1988 UEFA Euros as well as the 1986 FIFA World Cup. He has also captained 50 games, won the Danish Player of the Year twice and was also the head coach for Denmark for a period of 15 years, from 2000 to 2015. 

As a player, he also won 3 Belgian league titles and the UEFA Super Cup with Anderlecht and as a manager, led Brondby to 2 Danish league titles as well as Ajax to a double in 1998.

#4 Lothar Matthaus

Matthaus is regarded as one of the most complete footballers of all time

At the age of 39 years and 91 days in the UEFA Euro 2000, Matthaus is the most capped German player of all time with a total of 150 appearances and 23 goals to his name.

A midfielder par excellence, Matthaus is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever in that position and won the 1990 FIFA World Cup with West Germany. He is also the only German player ever to win the FIFA World Player of the Year as well as the first outfield player to feature in 5 FIFA World Cups.

A bonafide Bayern Munich legend, he won the 1980 UEFA Euros and also featured in the 1984,1988 and 2000 editions. Even at the age of 38, Matthaus was voted as the German Footballer of the Year and the great Maradona summed it up best when he said Matthaus was his greatest rival of all time.

#3 Cristiano Ronaldo

Featuring for Portugal at the age of 39 years and 147 days in the UEFA Euro 2024, Cristiano Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of the greatest forwards the game has ever seen. He holds the record of the most appearances in professional football for club and country with over 1200 games to his name as well as scoring over 890 senior official goals, making him the highest goalscorer of all time. 

For the Selecao, he has over 200 appearances making him the most capped male player of all time and has featured in every Euro since 2004. He won the Silver Boot in UEFA Euro 2016, a tournament in which he also led his side to the title. 

The 5-time Ballon D’or winner was also named as the greatest Portuguese player of all time in 2015 and although he has been in disappointing form in UEFA Euro 2024, no one can doubt his legacy as a giant of the game.

#2 Gabor Kiraly

Kiraly’s attire drew as much attention as his skills under the bar

Featuring for Hungary at the age of 40 years and 86 days in the UEFA Euro 2016, Gabor Kiraly has a record 108 caps for his national side. Having played most of his club career in Germany and England, the goalkeeper became the oldest player at the time to represent a team in the European Championships on 14th June 2016. 

He was known throughout his career for wearing a recognisable pair of grey tracksuit bottoms instead of shorts, something he attributed to bringing him “good luck” and comfort.

Gabor made his debut for Hungary against Austria in 1998 and was the only player in the Hungarian team who made all 10 appearances in their qualifiers in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He retired from professional football after Euro 2016 and played a testimonial game against Sweden, thus bringing an end to a decorated career.

#1 Pepe

At the age of 41 years and 126 days, Pepe played in the quarter-final of the UEFA Euro 2024. The defender is regarded as one of the best central defenders in modern football and has 141 caps to his name for the Selecao. He has featured in 4 FIFA World Cups and 5 European Championships and was also named the player of the final in the 2016 UEFA Euro final where Portugal lifted the coveted trophy.

He holds the record of being only one of 3 players to feature in 5 European Championships and despite Portugal’s exit to France on penalties in UEFA Euro 2024, his performances were a sight to behold.

The experienced defender showcased why he has won so many titles throughout his career including during his swansong years at Porto, with whom he has won 4 Portuguese leagues and 3 Taca de Portugal titles. He was also a part of the Portuguese team that won the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019.