Age is no obstacle — Sport’s top five Peter Pans

By Rhys Hayward
Wilfred Rhodes, the English cricketer, played the sport into his 50s

Wilfred Rhodes, the English cricketer, played the sport into his 50s

With the news that Fabrice ‘The Magician’ Santoro is to come out of retirement to extend his Grand Slam appearances record to 70 at the Australian Open next month, TSR looks at five other sporting Peter Pans — players whose careers seemed to defy the sands of time.

1. Wilfred Rhodes

In cricket, it is far from uncommon for players’ careers to stretch beyond the 40 barrier, but to still be playing in their 50’s is remarkable. Wilfred Rhodes’ record of appearing in a Test Match at the age of 52 is one of a host of records held by the former Yorkshire and England all-rounder which will stand the test of time. Rhodes, a slow left arm bowler and right-handed batsman who was good enough to make two Test centuries, appeared in 1,110 first-class matches, taking a bewildering 4,204 wickets.

2. Sir Stanley Matthews

Stanley Matthew’s longevity quite frankly makes Ryan Giggs look like a mere whippersnapper. The legendary Blackpool and Stoke winger was still playing top level football at the age of 50 and made 54 international appearances for England, either side of WWII. Matthews was also the first winner of the Balon d’Or, an award he collected at the tender age of 41. His legendary status was confirmed when players including Lev Yashin, Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas travelled to Stoke to play for a World XI in Matthews’ testimonial.

3. George Foreman

Boxing has a history of fighters getting back into the ring at and advanced age, often for the wrong reasons. Foreman however, belongs to an all together more successful group. The man most famous for his line of home grilling products, ahem, ‘the Rumble in the Jungle’ with Mohammed Ali, became the oldest winner of the World heavyweight title when he knocked out Michael Moorer, 25 years after he first won the belt.

4. Jerry Rice

A former wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks in the NFL, Rice’s professional career lasted for a phenomenal 19 seasons in a sport where the average career-span is less than ten years. Rice holds so many records that the Wikipedia article detailing them is longer than his biography page. One in particular stands out; Rice has scored more touchdowns than any other player in NFL history.

5. Oscar Swahn

In Olympic history, one man in particular stands out. Forget Sir Steve Redgrave, Swahn is the oldest Gold medallist in the history of the games, winning his title at the astonishing age of 64 at the 1912 Stockholm games. He later extended his own record for the oldest medallist when, in Antwerp eight years later he collected a silver medal. The event? That classic, the 100m team running deer shooting. And to think some people didn’t want Golf. Honestly…

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