Armenia goalkeeper Roman Berezovski bowed out of football with a cameo against Belarus as the seventh oldest European man to have played international football.
Berezovski, aged 41 years and 233 days, played the first seven minutes of Armenia’s 0-0 friendly draw with Belarus in Yerevan, his 94th and final cap since his debut on 31 August 1996 against Portugal, the same nation he met in his last competitive international back in June. His substitution was met with a standing ovation while a huge banner reading “Thanks Legend” was displayed throughout the match.
Based in Russia since 1993, Berezovski is now goalkeeping coach at Dinamo Moskva having retired from club football last year. He said ahead of his farewell: “I have always come here because I love my motherland. This small country and its air are very dear to me. And the national team is the closest thing to me, like a child to his parent.”
A player set to join the fifth-decade club this year is Hungary goalkeeper Gábor Király, who turns 40 on 1 April. All being well, he will become the first man in his 40s to play at a UEFA European Championship finals in June; the current record-holder is Lothar Matthäus, who was 39 years and 91 days when he played for Germany against Portugal at UEFA EURO 2000.
Liechtenstein forward Mario Frick took his record as the oldest outfield player in UEFA EURO qualifying to 41 years and 35 days with his farewell international appearance in Austria on 21 October 2015. Meanwhile the oldest female to play for a European nation was Malta’s Tonina Dimech, aged 49 years and 110 days when she faced Turkey in a FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier on 11 April 2010.
- The senior 22: Europe’s 40-something internationals
Giorgios Koudas*, 48 years 301 days, Greece v Yugoslavia (friendly), 20/09/1995
Billy Meredith, 45 years 229 days, England v Wales (British International Championship), 15/03/1920
Vasilios Hatzipanagis*, 45 years 49 days, Greece v Ghana (friendly), 14/12/1999
Elisha Scott, 42 years 200 days, Northern Ireland v Wales (British International Championship), 11/03/1936
Sir Stanley Matthews, 42 years 103 days, Denmark v England (FIFA World Cup qualifier), 15/05/1957
Jákup Mikkelsen, 41 years 365 days, Iceland v Faroe Islands (friendly), 15/08/2012
Roman Berezovski, 41 years 233 days, Armenia v Belarus (friendly), 25/03/2016
Dino Zoff, 41 years 90 days, Sweden v Italy (UEFA European Championship qualifer), 29/05/1983
Albert Beuchat, 41 years 63 days, Italy v Switzerland (friendly), 14/02/1932
Mario Frick, 41 years 35 days, Austria v Liechtenstein (UEFA European Championship qualifier), 21/10/2015
Pat Jennings, 41 years, Brazil v Northern Ireland (FIFA World Cup group stage), 12/06/1986
Peter Shilton, 40 years 292 days, Italy v England (FIFA World Cup third-place play-off), 07/07/1990
Patsy Gallagher, 40 years 272 days, Republic of Ireland** v Spain (friendly), 13/12/1931
Jack Henderson, 40 years 254 days, Ireland v Wales (British International Championship), 11/04/1885
Serghei Stroenco, 40 years 237 days, Malta v Moldova (UEFA European Championship qualifier), 17/10/2007
David Weir, 40 years 155 days, Scotland v Spain (UEFA European Championship qualifier), 12/10/2010
Larbi Ben Barek, 40 years and 121 days, Germany v France (friendly), 16/10/1954
Jim Leighton, 40 years 78 days, Scotland v Estonia (UEFA European Championship qualifier), 10/10/1998
Jerzy Dudek, 40 years 73 days, Poland v Liechtenstein (friendly), 04/06/2013
Maik Taylor, 40 years 37 days, Italy v Northern Ireland (UEFA European Championship qualifier), 11/10/2011
Billy McCracken, 40 years 33 days, Northern Ireland v Scotland (British International Championship), 03/03/1923
Sargis Hovsepyan, 40 years 12 days, Armenia v Lithuania (friendly), 14/11/2012
Birkir Kristinsson, 40 years 3 days, Iceland v Italy (friendly), 18/08/2004
*Koudas and Hatzipangis both came out of retirement to make those appearances for Greece, the national team honouring two of its favourite sons
**Then known as Irish Free State
Note: Matthew Wilson was thought to be least 41 when he played for Ireland against England on 23 February 1884 but only his given birth year (1842) is known.