8 footballers who played into their 40s as Ibrahimovic signs new AC Milan deal

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is ready to join a string of Serie A giants in playing into his 40s as the Swedish striker enjoys a fine period of success as nears the end of his career.

The 39-year-old, who has come out of retirement to play for his country at Euro 2020, has scored 15 goals in 17 league outings so far this season to earn a contract extension.

Ibrahimovic return to Italy after spells with PSG, Manchester United and LA Galaxy, and has shown no signs of slowing down with 81 goals across his last 113 club appearances.

Daily Star Sport have now taken a look at eight former stars who played past their 40th birthdays, with one even bringing himself on while managing the side.

Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini played only for AC Milan and Italy during his 25-year professional career – making his debut at the age of 16 and playing until he was past 40.

The seven-time Serie A winning defender is credited with being the finest defender of his generation, winning the European Cup on five occasions between 1989 and 2007.

The World Cup runner-up with Italy played right up until just before his 41st birthday, making 32 appearances during the 2008/09 season before his number 3 shirt was retired by the club.

Ryan Giggs

Premier League veteran Giggs featured in 24 different campaigns for Manchester United – scoring 168 goals an winning 13 league titles, seven domestic cups and two Champions Leagues.

The current Wales boss turned 40 back in November of 2013 – and was named as interim boss after announcing that his playing days were coming to an end.

Giggs made 10 appearances after that birthday, and brought himself on as a substitute for a final appearance against Hull before the arrival of Louis van Gaal as boss.

Teddy Sheringham

Former Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Tottenham, Manchester United, Portsmouth and West Ham forward Teddy Sheringham racked up 926 professional appearances and scored 361 goals.

The former England forward made his debut in the old Third Division back in 1984 – and went on to play regularly until 2008 as he approached his 43st birthday.

Aged 40 years and 268 days, he broke the record for oldest outfield player to score in the Premier League with a strike against Manchester City.

Gianluigi Buffon

Italian goalkeeping hero Gianluigi Buffon is still going strong at the age of 43 having returned to Serie A with Juventus back in 2019 after a season with PSG.

The 6 ft 4 in stopper has made a total of 683 appearances for the club either side of his 25 with PSG – having initially joined from Parma way back in 2001.

The World Cup winner in 2006 also made 176 appearances for his country between 1997 and 2018 – and has won 11 league titles but never the Champions League.

Javier Zanetti

Inter Milan hero Javier Zanetti made 858 appearances for the club after leaving Banfield in his native Argentina way back in 1995.

The 143 cap Argentina defender was a part of the Inter squad for 19 seasons, winning five league titles, eight domestic cups and the Champions League in 2010.

Zanetti made 13 appearances after his 40th birthday, and is an icon of Italian football.

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  • Francesco Totti

    Francesco Totti might not have won nearly as many trophies as those former Serie A opponents, but he will forever be recognised as a icon in Roma history.

    The former Italy forward managed 307 goals for the club across his 25 seasons, lifting the league title only once alongside four domestic cups and the World Cup with his country.

    Having turned 40 at the beginning of the 2016/17 season, he retired the following summer.

    Roger Milla

    Best known for his trademark goal celebration of dancing in front of the corner flag, Milla will forever be in the World Cup record books for being the oldest goalscorer in tournament history.

    At the end of a lengthy career that included 37 goals in 95 league games for Montpellier. The Cameroon icon netted against Russia in the 1994 FIFA World Cup at the age of 42.

    That goal, which came after he ended his retirement, helped him be named in Pele’s list of the 100 greatest living players back in 2004.

    Sir Stanley Matthews

    Last but certainly not least is Sir Stanley Matthews – who played for Stoke up to his 50th birthday.

    That spell came after time a long period with the Potters between 1932 and 1947, where he returned after time with Blackpool and Toronto.

    The famous "Matthews Final" of the FA Cup actually came in 1953 when he was only 38, during which he helped the Tangerines to a 4-3 win over Bolton.

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