the Oldest Professional Footballers from the English Game
September 08, 2015
In an age where sporting records are constantly being adjusted and broken, there is one that has remained unchallenged since 1947. It was then that Neil McBain became the oldest player in English football league history, turning out for Brighton and Hove Albion at the tender age of 51. While the world record was recently set by the legendary Salvador Reyes (who represented Mexican side Chivas at the age of 71 in 2008), it is refreshing that at least some aspects of history are able to stand the considerable test of time.
Three of the Oldest Footballers to have Challenged this record
While McBain’s English record remains intact, however, who are the players who have come closest to breaking it? Here are three who almost made history…
John Burridge, 43
Burridge, or ‘Budgie’ as he was affectionately known within the game, is something of a legendary journeyman who played for an astonishing 29 clubs and 15 league outfits over the course of his career. As a goalkeeper you would expect him to play for longer, and having made his début for Workington in 1969 he finally hung up his gloves after a spell with Blythe Spartans in 1997. Best known for being the Hibernian goalkeeper when the club won the Skol Cup in 1991, Burridge has a wealth of experience and remains one of Britain’s best loved footballing legends.
Teddy Sheringham, 42
Last seen trotting out for Colchester United in 2008, former Nottingham Forest, Tottenham and Manchester United forward Sheringham enjoyed an illustrious career in which he won numerous medals. These included a Premier League title and Champions League medal with United; while Sheringham also represented England with distinction and became the oldest ever play to compete in an FA Cup final when he represented West Ham United in 2006 at the tender age of 40. In total Sheringham made more than 700 league appearances in his career, while he also scored the Premier League’s first ever goal in 1992.
Andy Legg, 42
At the other end of the spectrum is Welsh midfielder Andy Legg, who worked as a supervisor in a shelving systems factory and Forestry Commission worker before making his professional début. He became a much-loved and well-travelled player, who turned out for Swansea, Cardiff City, Notts County, Birmingham, Ipswich, Reading and Peterborough before his retirement. He is also the proud owner of the world record for the longest throw-in, after achieving a distance of 44.6 metres during the fledgling years of his career.