With Francesco Totti playing on until the ripe old age of 40 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently turned 35, it’s fair to say veteran footballers are in fashion at the moment.
But those seeking a true survivor of the modern game would be better served by turning their attentions to Brazil and Palmeiras where one of Totti and Zlatan’s old adversaries continues to defy all logic.
When Zé Roberto left Hamburg for Al-Gharafa in Qatar in July 2011, most assumed it would prove to be something of a swansong for the versatile Brazilian.
Having started his career in his homeland with Portuguesa, Ze Roberto had enjoyed a career most would envy, with spells at Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich (twice) to his name. Here’s his very first goal for Portuguesa:
Capped 84 times by Brazil, he won the Copa America twice with Selecao and was named in the all-star team for the 2006 World Cup – his international swansong.
Add that to a trophy collection that included four Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokal winners’ medals, a La Liga title and Champions League win and it’s fair to say Zé Roberto could look back on a career of success.
Except that, five years on, and with the Brazilian now 42, he’s still playing in his homeland.
After a single season with Al-Gharafa, Zé Roberto returned to Brazil with Gremio where he played over 100 games over three seasons.
Now with Palmeiras, the central midfielder, who can also operate as a full-back or winger, has scored seven goals in 50 appearances and may have just scored arguably the best of his career.
Coming against Santa Cruz, Zé Roberto pulled the stringers in an impressive attacking move that culminated in a sublime lobbed finish.
Coming with a career that even pre-dates that of Totti, it’s impressive stuff and, more importantly, there does not appear to be any end in sight for Zé Roberto, who continues to thrive in the Brazilian top-flight.
Not bad going for a player Luis Felipe Scolari deemed surplus to requirements at the 2002 World Cup.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.