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ANALYSIS: England’s David James the oldest player in South Africa


By Pete Wilson

7 June 2010

Whether David James actually gets to play a game at the World Cup remains to be seen – he was unused in today’s 3-0 friendly win over the Platinum Stars – but England’s goalkeeper is the oldest player involved in any squad at the tournament.

Sportingintelligence‘s resident statistician Brian Sears has compiled a list of the tournament’s youngest nippers and oldest folk (see table below), and James, at 39 years and 10 months currently, is the oldest man among the 736 players in the 32 squads.

Six of the seven oldest players are goalkeepers, and three of them play in England: James with Portsmouth, America’s Marcus Hahnemann (37y 11m) with Wolves and Australia’s Mark Schwarzer (37y 7m) with Fulham. The other elderly custodians are Dutch, Mexican and Korean. The only outfielder among the oldest seven is Mexico’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco, 37 years and five months. Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for pointing this out. (We originally missed him during a transposition of data from statto to table. Apologies.)

The other oldest outfielders are Italy’s defensive veteran Fabio Cannavaro (36 years and eight months) and the Honduras striker Carlos Pavon (36 years and seven months).

At the other end of the scale, there is not a single player below the age of 18; the most junior player is Denmark’s Christian Eriksen (18 years, 3 months), while the third-youngest player is Chris Wood of New Zealand and West Bromwich Albion.

No age records, young or old, are likely be set at this summer’s World Cup. The records for youngest player, scorer, finalist and winner at a World Cup cannot be broken. The records for oldest player, scorer, finalist or winner cannot be broken.

The record for oldest hat-trick scorer at a World Cup could yet be broken. It stands at 33 years and 159 days, set by Sweden’s Tore Keller in 1938. The record for oldest scorer in a final could also be broken. It stands at 35 years and 263 days, set by Sweden’s Nils Liedholm in 1958, incidentally at the same tournament where Pele set records (that still stand) for youngest World Cup scorer, youngest hat-trick scorer and youngest scorer in a final.

If David James could only reach the final and score a goal or three, he could yet bag some more records beyond being the oldest player at the 2010 event. Getting in the team would be a start.


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NB – Late substitution! As mentioned in the text above, we missed Mexico’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco, 37, from the oldest outfielder list. He’s fifth oldest overall too.

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