The year 2009 sees some of the best players of the past 20 years enter the twilight of their careers. FIFA.com takes a look at the candidates for the best player still displaying his skills at the age of 35 or over.
It's hard to believe that Manchester United's flying wing wizard, Ryan Giggs could be considered a veteran; it only seems like yesterday when he was taking on the Arsenal defence to score that famous goal at Villa Park in the FA Cup semi-final of 1999. We shouldn't forget about his United team-mate, Edwin van der Sar, who at 38 and with 130 caps for the Netherlands, is still in fine fettle in between the sticks at Old Trafford.
Perhaps there is something in the water in Italy, with the likes of the ageless Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, Filippo Inzaghi, Marco Materazzi and Christian Panucci all still plying their trade with top European clubs. Argentina full-back Javier Zanetti and Portuguese winger Luis Figo are enjoying great seasons with Inter Milan. And, of course, there is everyone's Czech mate, Pavel Nedved, who is still yet to be replaced at Juventus.
Remember Liverpool's remarkable UEFA Champions League triumph in Istanbul? Well, three of the heroes from that night in 2005 are also reproducing some of their best form. Sami Hyypia, Vladimir Smicer and Dietmar Hamann have all received praise from the public in recent weeks for their impressive performances on the pitch.
Former Celtic hit-man, Henrik Larsson is still averaging a goal every other game with Swedish outfit, Helsingborg IF, while fellow striker Jan Koller and record goalscorer for the Czech Republic is going strong in the Russian Premier League. Maybe it's the letter 'R' that helps to prolong a career with Roberto Carlos, Robert Pires, Rogerio Ceni and Roberto Ayala still performing week-in-week-out for their club sides in Turkey, Spain and Brazil.
But there's also a case for the letter 'B'! Just look at the examples set by such players as Brad Friedel, Brian McBride, Bernd Schneider and Mexico's 1998 FIFA World Cup™ star, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who can still be seen displaying his skills for Chicago Fire. Another star of France 1998, Rivaldo, is still going strong and helped Uzbekistan outfit Bunyodkor to the semi-finals of the 2008 AFC Champions League.
So who does that leave us with then? Well, David James of Portsmouth has regained the England No1 jersey. Midfield maestros Tugay and Claude Makelele are still dictating the midfields for Blackburn Rovers and PSG respectively and Croatian stalwart, Niko Kovac has just signed a contract extension with Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg.
With all these world class players about to hang up their boots in the not too distant future, who do you think is the best veteran of the modern era? Click 'Add your comment' to get involved, remembering to keep your posts clean, respectful, about the topic and in English.