When is a man in his prime? Well, depends on the context - different types of activities (and different people) define this in very different ways. For athletes, “prime” is somewhere around their peak of physical capabilities, somewhere between 22 and 30. From that point, a man’s muscle mass begins to decline, and this means that they start performing worse in their sport - this is held true for every sport that requires physical fitness, from football to soccer and combat sports.
Today, in turn, we have quite a few soccer players who seem to defy this definition of “prime” - soccer stars that, despite their age, are constantly among the most popular names both in the press and on the best sports betting site in Thailand. They are professionals who seem to be at the peak of their fitness even after decades of practicing their sport of choice.
Honorable mention: Kazuyoshi Miura
Yokohama FC forward Kazuyoshi Miura has broken all stereotypes about the “prime” of a soccer player. The 53-year-old forward has extended his contract with the Japanese team this January, keeping him the oldest active footballer in the world.
While his status as a soccer star is questionable - he did win the Asian Footballer of the Year in 1992 but that’s about it as an individual player - we have to respect his achievements over his 35-year career (so far): more than 600 league games, almost 200 goals, and dozens of caps for the Japanese national soccer team.
Lionel Messi (34)
Now, let’s get to soccer stars in the true sense of the word - and let’s begin with Lionel Messi, currently playing with Paris Saint Germain.
Messi has spent most of his professional career playing with Catalan team Barcelona. During this time, he played in more than 500 league games, scored way over 400 goals, helped the team win pretty much every trophy you can imagine (and won everything individually as well), not to mention his results playing with the national soccer team of his native Argentina. Today, at age 34, he is still considered one of the best soccer players in the world.
Cristiano Ronaldo (36)
Another massive soccer star who should be beyond his prime but stubbornly refuses to get old is Brazilian legend, Cristiano Ronaldo. The 36-year-old player has a very impressive collection of trophies earned both with his teams and individually, and quite a few broken records to his name, including that of being the most expensive football player involved in a transfer, the most goals scored in a UEFA qualifier, and several others.
Ronaldo has recently switched teams - he now plays in the English Premier League - and seems to be bent on going on for years to come.
Joaquín Sánchez (40)
Joaquín Sánchez Rodríguez - Joaquín for short - has made his debut in 1999, at the age of 18, with Spanish team Real Betis as a right-winger. Since then, he played with a handful of other Spanish - and one Italian - teams, only to go full circle and return to Betis in 2015.
During his career, he played more than 570 league games, scored 76 goals, and represented Spain at two FIFA World Cups. Today, he is the La Liga player with the second-highest number of outings - but he’s on his way to breaking that record, too.
Gianluigi Buffon (43)
Finally, let us mention Gianluigi Buffon, the Parma goalkeeper who is still going strong at the age of 43. With more than 1100 professional appearances, Buffon is one of the most established footballers today. He has broken countless records, including that of the most clean sheets in Serie A (299), most clean sheets for Italy at a World Cup (6), and the most clean sheets in a single Serie A season (21). He has a list of achievements and accolades that’s way too long to enumerate, and he is out for more: this summer, he returned to Parma, the club where he made his professional debut, continuing to serve as one of the greatest goalkeepers ever to step on the turf.