Nine players you didn’t realise were still going: Nakamura, Pedersen, Joachim

Quick Reads

A career as a professional footballer sadly has to come to an end at some point – but some players just can’t let go.

We can’t blame them. Being a footballer is the life, so they’re well within their rights to make the absolute most of it.

We’ve taken a look at eight players you probably didn’t realise were still playing the beautiful game.

Shunsuke Nakamura

Still going strong at the age of 41, Nakamura returned to his native Japan in 2010 and is now onto his third club with second-tier outfit Yokohama FC.

In 2013, Nakamura was named the J-League’s MVP after captaining Yokohama F Marinos to Emperor’s Cup glory, while he has broken the record for most direct free-kicks scored in the Japanese top flight, obviously.

READ: Shunsuke Nakamura: The Celtic legend who’s still going 10 years after leaving

Jay Bothroyd

Another man plying his trade in Japan, Bothroyd currently turns out for Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, having previously also appeared for Júbilo Iwata.

The former Arsenal prospect’s nomadic career has taken him from befriending Colonel Gaddafi’s son at Perugia to a short spell in Thailand with Muangthong United, via winning a solitary England cap against France while playing for Cardiff City in the Championship.

Now 37, Bothroyd, who has scored 54 goals since moving to Japan, recently told The Guardian: “I am happy, I’m the highest‑scoring British person in the J-League ever and Gary Lineker was here, so that’s an achievement.”

Julian Joachim

It might have been reasonable to expect that when former Leeds and Aston Villa forward Joachim left Notts Senior League side Aslockton & Orston at the end of the 2018-19 season, aged 44, that would be a reasonable time to call time on his playing career.

But no, he’s just joined Gibraltar side Europa Point.

Alvaro Negredo

We were recently reminded of Negredo’s existence when he scored this belter for Al-Nasr in the UAE.

Fair play.

Jason Puncheon

Sometimes you can be excused for losing track of a player once they drop out of the Premier League – and Puncheon has perhaps taken the biscuit.

After suffering relegation while on loan at Huddersfield Town last season, Puncheon was released by parent club Crystal Palace but continued to train with the Eagles to maintain his fitness, even scoring in a pre-season friendly.

The 33-year-old then made the leftfield move of joining Parfos, who declared: “This is one of the most important transfers in Cypriot football.”

Matt Derbyshire wants a word.

READ: Matt Derbyshire: It’s great fun in Cyprus, I don’t miss England at all

Morten Gamst Pedersen

It’s been six years since Pedersen was allowed to leave Blackburn for Karabükspor on a free transfer after a season in the Championship and nine in total at Ewood Park.

He was 31 at the time and played only 10 times in the Süper Lig before returning to Norway to join Rosenborg in a move many might have taken as a sign of him winding down his career.

He’s now 37 and still going strong, back at his first club, Tromsø. We still wouldn’t want to be a keeper when he steps up to take a free-kick.

Javier Mascherano

Javier Mascherano once tore his anus while playing for Argentina in the World Cup, and you should never forget that.

Oh, and he’s still turning out for Hebei China Fortune, which you probably have forgotten.

Alex Hleb

Despite just finishing his fifth spell at BATE Borisov, Hleb is still not prepared to call it a day.

The former Arsenal man has now joined Isloch Minsk Raion. At the age of 38, we’re confident he still has another spell at BATE left in him.

READ: Alexander Hleb: I cried over Arsenal exit; most players regret leaving

David Villa

After tearing up MLS for four years with New York City – where we witnessed him properly take the piss one night – Villa followed the influx of Spanish players in moving to Japan, joining Vissel Kobe to play alongside Andres Iniesta and Sergi Samper, plus former Arsenal duo Lukas Podolski and Thomas Vermaelen.

He may be 37, but with 10 goals in 18 starts, he’s very much still got it.

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