Scoring at a World Cup is no easy feat, especially when you are in your twilight years as a footballer. However, that’s something that all 10 of the players managed to achieve after their 35th birthday. Together they are the oldest goalscorers in World Cup history. Check them out below:
10. John Aldridge, (Age: 35 years, 280 days)
Liverpool-born John Aldridge almost didn’t play for the Republic of Ireland. He qualified through his maternal grandmother and was convinced to go green by new manager Jack Charlton. He didn’t make his Ireland debut until he was in his late 20s, yet he still managed to have a 10-year career with The Boys in Green. Aldridge scored his one and only World Cup goal at USA ’94 in a 2-1 defeat to Mexico in Orlando, Florida. He scored 19 times for the Irish before hanging up his boots in 1996.
9. Miroslav Klose (Age: 36 years, 29 days)
It’s no surprise to find German hitman Miroslav Klose on this list. He’s not only one of the oldest goal scorers in the tournament’s history, but he’s also the tournament’s leading goal scorer with 16 goals. Ironically, Klose was not as prolific a goal scorer in his club career as he was for his country.
Klose is the all-time leading goal scorer for Die Mannschaft with 71 goals, but the goal that put Klose on this list came in the infamous 7-1 drubbing of Brazil. It was easy to forget as the sheer volume of goals put into the Brazilian net was the news story of the day. The goal also put him past Ronaldo for the most goals in World Cup history. A double blow for Brazilians that day.
8. Tom Finney (Age: 36 years, 64 days)
Sir Tom Finney is remembered as one of the greatest English footballers of all time. He made 76 appearances for England and 569 appearances for his club Preston North End.
The “Preston Plummer” scored just two goals in a World Cup for England. The first came in the quarterfinals of the 1954 World Cup against Uruguay in a 4-2 defeat. The second is the goal that put Finney on this list. He scored a vital 85th-minute penalty in the group stages of the 1958 World Cup against the Soviet Union.
7. Georges Bregy (Age: 36 years, 156 days)
Georges Bregy was capped a very respectable 54 times for the Swiss and scored 12 times. He was a member of the 1994 World Cup team and scored a magnificent goal against the United States in the group stages of the tournament. Though the United States would tie the game minutes later, Bregsy opened the scoring with a beautiful free-kick from the edge of the box. The point gained from the match helped both sides qualify from their group and sent Colombia home to tragedy.
6. Martin Palermo (Age: 36 years, 227 days)
Though he did venture to Spanish shores for a few seasons with little success, Palermo is a legend in his home country, Argentina. The former Estudiantes and Boca Juniors man scored nearly 250 goals in his club career.
His national team career was somewhat different, however. Palermo played just 15 times for La Albiceleste, scoring 9 times. Despite this, he managed to write his name into the record books on more than one occasion. Firstly, for missing three penalties in a single match in the 1999 Copa America against Colombia.
That infamy cost him the next 10 years with the national team until Diego Maradona recalled him for the 2010 World Cup. Palermo came on as a second-half substitute in a group stage match against Greece. He put home a missed shot by Lionel Messi to secure the win and his place on this list.
5. Obdulio Varela (Age: 36 years, 279 days)
Only one other man on this list managed to achieve what Obdulio Varela did; win the World Cup. He was captain of the famous 1950 World Cup champions, Uruguay. His side were famous for causing the original Brazilian heartache that has come to be known as the “Maracanaço”, or the 1950 World Cup Final played in Rio de Janeiro’s famous Estadio Maracana.
Varela’s final World Cup goal didn’t come at that famous tournament, though. It came four years later as Uruguay attempted to hold onto its crown. Varela’s goal was Uruguay’s second in a 4-2 defeat of England in the quarterfinals. They would go on to lose to Hungary in the semi-finals.
4. Felipe Baloy (Age: 37 years, 120 days)
Panama has made just one World Cup in their footballing history, in 2018, where they managed to score a solitary goal. The goal was scored by veteran defender Felipe Baloy in a 6-1 thrashing by England. That didn’t stop the Panamanians from celebrating, and Baloy will forever go down in Panamanian footballing history.
3. Cuauhtémoc Blanco (Age: 37 years, 151 days)
Few men in history have had a more fitting name than Mexican Cuauhtémoc Blanco. His first name means “one who has descended like an eagle”, and that’s how Blanco played the game, a little hunched over but always in control, like an eagle swooping in to capture its prey.
Blanco was such an intelligent footballer that even after his body began to break down, he was still able to be an influential playmaker. The 2010 World Cup was proof of that. Despite being 37 years old, he managed to claim a spot in the Mexican World Cup squad.
The most efficient penalty taker in football history strode up to blast home a penalty against France in the group stage to seal a 2-0 victory for El Tri. That goal made him the only player in Mexican history to score in three World Cup tournaments.
2. Gunnar Gren (Age: 37 years, 236 days)
If you’ve seen a picture of Gunnar Gren at the 1958 World Cup, you could be forgiven for thinking that he was even older than 37.
After winning an Olympic gold medal in 1948, Gren and the Swedes were hoping to parlay that success into a World Cup win. Sweden made it to the final on home soil in 1958, where they were eventually defeated by a Brazil side which included a 17-year-old Pele. At nearly 38 years old, Gren scored his goal in the semi-final as Sweden defeated West Germany 3-1.
1. Roger Milla (Age: 42 years, 39 days)
Roger Milla is one of the greatest African footballers of all time, so is it really a surprise that he was still be competing on the world stage at the ripe old age of 42? Of course, it is! We’re talking about the World Cup here, not the local Sunday league competition.
The Cameroonian became the oldest player to appear in a World Cup match at USA ’94. That record has since been broken by two goalkeepers, so he remains the oldest outfield player in World Cup history. But it’s important to remember that Milla was not a bit-part player in the Cameroonian side. In fact, he scored a goal against Russia in the group stage, breaking his own record set four years earlier for being the competition’s oldest goal scorer.