AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: Most Prolific Footballers Over Thirty
Just four months after major knee surgery Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a stunning comeback to score after just seven minutes on the pitch against Lazio this weekend. An impressive recovery from anyone but from a man just a month shy of turning 40, it’s staggering. But for Zlatan, goals, even this late into his career, have seemed to come pretty easy.
In fact, Ibra has now scored over 100 more goals after turning 30 than he managed in his teens and twenties.
It’s a stat that means he comfortably slots into the top 5 most productive goalscorers over the age of 30 but who else joins him?
We’ve taken a look into who else joins Ibra on the list of the most prolific golden oldie goalscorer’s.
While Ibra’s goal tally after turning 30 is impressive, Romario’s is absolutely mind boggling. The Brazilian scored a scarcely believable 450 goals after his 30th birthday. He spent his thirties largely globetrotting with the occasional stop offs with his beloved Vasco and finished off his career with an impressive 13 goals in 15 appearances with the side in the Brazilian top flight at the age of 41.
A large man with a 100 metre time that was not far off the pace of the fastest in the world in his day, Bican was an absolute physical specimen. With his career lasting between 1931 and 1957 there are conflicting reports over exactly how many he scored but when the low end estimates for your goal tally are around 800, you’ve done pretty well. With much of his finest work coming after he turned 30 It’s confidently estimated that he scored at least 400 goals in the subsequent 14 seasons.
Before turning 30 Zlatan had scored 232 goals, he now has 570. In spells in Italy, France and the US he has bagged a truly impressive 338 goals in the last ten years. With his goal against Cagliari last year he remarkably became one of the few footballers in history to score a goal in four separate decades.
Still only 36, Ronaldo has somehow managed to score 325 goals in the last six years for club and country. That’s 54 goals every year. And while others have played stints in the US or Middle East, Ronaldo has achieved his tally while plying his trade in La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1. If he can carry his goal scoring exploits into the premier league there’s every chance he will surpass Romario as the most prolific veteran striker in history.
Before coming to the final man on this list it’s worth an honourable mention for Erwin Helmchen and Abe Lenstra, two truly prolific goalscorers who, simply through the age of their records or the leagues in which they were achieving them, have some murkiness around their totals and so have been left off. It’s safe to assume, however, that there totals were at or around the 300 goal mark.
So, finally we come to Tulio. A man who honestly isn’t spoken enough about in Europe, at the very least for the absolute insanity of his career. Between 1988 and 2019, he had an astounding 38 stints at various clubs, although in a few cases appearing 0 times, and claimed himself to have scored over 1000 career goals. While his total goal claim does appear to be somewhat dubious one thing we do know for sure is that in official games after turning 30 he scored 296 goals. Though, to be fair, he did have about 20 years to do it in as he eventually hung up his boots aged 50.
Words by Andy Gallagher
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