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Five Footballers Who Peaked in their Later Years

More often than not, footballers expect the better years of their careers in their mid to late-20s.

In some instances the tradition is altered, as a few gradually improve in their late 20s before finally peaking in their 30s.

Here are five great players who made impact in their later years.

Antonio Di Natale

Antonio Di Natale

Antonio Di Natale was 32 when he first managed to bag more than 20 goals in single season.

The former Udinese striker scored 29 times in 2009 – 2010, ending the season as the league’s top scorer and was named Serie A footballer of the year.

In the following 4 seasons he scored 28, 29, 26 and 20 goals respectively, and was still scoring goals at the time of his retiring in 2016.

Dubbed the football’s ultimate late bloomer, Di Natale also earned call-up’s to the Italy's national team, scoring 11 times in 40 outings.

Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy

When Leicester city surprisingly won the premier league in 2016, Jamie Vardy was on remarkable form as he managed 24 goals in 36 appearances.

Just like other players on this list, his rise to prominence did not arrive until he was 29 years old.

Prior to joining Leicester city for £1 million in 2012, he was playing for non-league team, Fleetwood town.

34 now, Vardy has found the net over 150 times, for Leicester city and England national team.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan is one of the most revered footballers in the world today, with a career spanning well over 20 years.

He has scored over 500 goals, a feat only marched by 4 active players – Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Luis Suarez.

Majority of goals Zlatan has scored came after turning 30, thanks to exceptional spells at PSG, Manchester United, LA Galaxy and now, AC Milan.

Almost 40 now, there is no sign of Zlatan retiring any time soon. He has actually hailed his ability to stay at the top for so long by saying “I’m like fine wine. The older I am, the better I get.”

Marcos Senna

Marcos Senna

Marcos Senna spent the early years of his football career in the lower divisions of Brazil.

He got his big break in 1999 after he moved to Corinthians, but it was at Sao Gaetano he caught the eye of Spanish, side, Villareal, who he joined aged 26.

His first 2 seasons with the yellow submarines were not as glamourous as he endured lengthy spells on the side lines.

It was in his 3rd that he established himself and was granted Spanish citizenship in order to represent the national team.

In 2007-08, he enjoyed his best season, as he helped Villareal finish second in Laliga, afterwards won European championship with Spain.

His brilliance earned him a place in the UEFA team of the tournament (EURO 2008) and was named Spanish footballer of the year.

He enjoyed 5 more seasons with Villareal, before leaving for New York Cosmos, then retiring in 2015 aged 38.

Marco Materazzi

Marco Materazzi

Italian footballers have a tendency to peak in the later years of their careers, and Marco Materazzi is a perfect example of that.

The former Italy international didn’t make his debut for the Azzurri until he was 28.

He spent the initial years of his career in Italy’s lover divisions as well as Everton in the Premier league.

2001 was his breakthrough year, after impressing for Perugia. This earned him his first Italy call up and a move to Inter Milan.

He spent 10 seasons with Inter, winning 5 Serie A titles, four Coppa Italias, the Champions league and the club world cup, as well as the Worrld cup with Italy.

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