Tom Brady has shocked the world of sport after confirming his comeback to the NFL, just two months after announcing his retirement.
The legendary quarterback said February that he would leave the game after 22 seasons and an incredible seven Super Bowl titles.
But he shocked people all over again by tweeting on Sunday: “These past two months I’ve realised my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now.
“I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business. Let’s f***ing go.”
He’ll return to the game at the age of 44 – making him the oldest athlete in the NFL.
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But he’s not alone when it comes to elite sportspeople smashing it well into their 40s, 50s and beyond.
These are all the oldest sportspeople still at the top of their game.
Kazuyoshi Miura - 55
Footballers have a short shelf-life, and it’s incredibly rare that players make it past their mid-30s before calling time on their careers. There are a number of elder statesmen and women still playing at the top level, including Zlatan Ibrahimović at the age of 40. Gianluigi Buffon is an even rarer case at the age of 44, but the most impressive anti-ageing efforts come from Japanese footballer Kazuyoshi Miura, still going well into his mid-50s.
Miura currently plays as a forward for Japan Football League club Suzuka Point Getters on loan from Yokohama FC, and helped put Japan on the international footballing map back in the 90s, racking up 89 caps for his country in 10 years before his retirement in 2000. He’s still doing the business at club level 22 years on from his last international game.
While not quite at the top level of the women's game, Liverpool Rangers Soccer Club in Australia has Lorraine Peel who also holds a world record after playing well into her late 60s.
Zdeno Chára - 44
A giant in every sense of the word, the 6ft 9in tall Zdeno Chára is one of the most established pros on the ice hockey circuit – and has been since signing in the NHL Draft for the New York Islanders all the way back in 1996.
The Slovakian defenceman has also played for Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, and Washington Capitals over the course of his career and holds the record for being the tallest ever player to play in the NHL.
Sting - 62
Sting Does Insane Balcony Dive Through Three Tables At AEW Revolution #shorts
It’s debatable whether or not wrestling should be classed as a sport or not (that’s a subject for another day) but we couldn’t put together this list without at least mentioning veteran wrestler Sting.
Fans instantly recognise him for his unique white face paint, and his career spanning nearly 40 years has seen him develop a reputation as one of the greatest of all time.
At 62, the former bodybuilder has proven himself to be more than willing to keep up with the rough and tumble of professional wrestling. This was made very clear after he pulled off an incredible dive through three tables in one of the most incredible stunts from the AEW Revolution event recently.
Anderson Silva - 46
Hard man Anderson Silva is something of a UFC legend, having been the former UFC Middleweight Champion and holding the longest title reign in UFC history at 2,457 days.
He’s still going at the age of 46, having left UFC in 2020 and returned to boxing. He beat Julio César Chávez Jr and former UFC star Tito Ortiz in 2021, and he will go down in history as one of the most successful MMA athletes of all time when his time eventually comes to retire.
Udonis Haslem - 41
LeBron James might be one of the biggest names in the history of the NBA, with the Los Angeles Lakers star still performing at the top level at the age of 37, but it’s Udonis Haslem who holds the title of the oldest serving player in the league.
The 41-year-old is going strong for the Miami Heat. He’s part of the furniture at the club, having first joined them back in 2003.
Bernhard Langer - 63
Bernhard Langer has been operating at the top level of golf since the 80s, and he’s pretty synonymous with the Masters.
The German has won the tournament twice in the past and he’s the oldest player in history to secure a spot at the tournament after he played at the age of 63 in 2019.
Langer was one of the game’s very best players in the 80s and 90s. He currently plays on the Champions tour and until very recently was playing on the PGA Tour.
Serena Williams - 40
While 40 might not seem like the most remarkable of ages when compared to other sports, making it to such a landmark in tennis and matching the physical demands is an astounding achievement.
Serena Williams has become the driving force of the women's game over the past two decades and she's a superstar who has inspired countless players to begin their own journeys in the game, with 23 grand slam wins to her name. Her and her sister, Venus, have created a sporting dynasty which will likely never be matched in the sport.
Tiger Woods - 46
There was a point in the early 00s at his peak where Tiger Woods was probably the most famous person on earth – even outside of the world of sport.
He transcended the sport to become a global icon, made golf cool and helped it shed its stuffy image, and single-handedly changed the game’s cultural relevance.
Well into his 40s now, Tiger won the Masters in 2019 at the age of 43 and showed his quality in the years that followed despite injury setbacks and suffering a horrendous car crash in 2021. He’s on the road to recovery and delighted fans by playing with his son Charlie at the PNC Championship in December. We hope to see him back competing at the top level very soon.
Darren Stevens - 45
Ask any county cricket fan who their favourite player is, and the chances are Darren Stevens will be pretty high on their list.
The Kent all-rounder is known for his metronomic swing bowling and explosive lower-order hitting, and he’s maturing like a fine wine over recent years. He’s scored more than 16,000 runs and taken almost 600 first class wickets, and he’s been one of the most in-form county players over the last few years and even named one of the Wisden cricketers of the year in 2021.
He puts his longevity down to a pint or two of Guinness after a day's play, too, and that’s the kind of strength and conditioning training we could get used to.
Rich Hill - 41
We love a journeyman pro, and the 41-year-old Rich Hill is an elite one at that having represented a grand total of 10 teams in the MLB across his career spanning three decades.
He’s pitched for Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins,Tampa Bay Rays and New York Mets over the past two decades, and had his longest stints with the Dodgers and the Cubs. With 1,185 strikeouts, he’s been a dependable player in the league since back in 2005.
Paul Lim - 68
It kind of makes sense that darts players enjoy some of the most long-lived careers in sport, with the emphasis placed firmly on accuracy over physical prowess.
Raymond Van Barneveld is still one of the most formidable competitors in the game at the age of 54, and Phil Taylor only retired at the age of 58 in 2018.
Incredibly, though, Paul Lim Leong Hwa is still going at the age of 68. He’s been playing since 1973 and he also holds the record for being the first player to hit a perfect nine-dart finish during the Embassy World Darts Championship.
Nicknamed Paul "The Singapore Slinger" Lim, he’s played in 26 consecutive world cup championships. Don’t be surprised to see him take to the stage at Ally Pally again in 2022.
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