Pedro Lima, Brazil's footballing grandfather
Veteran players have been making headlines of late in Brazil's ongoing state championships. Tulio, for example, recently hit the net for the 700th time for Canedense in the Campeonato Goiano, while Vasco's Romario continues to push his goal tally towards quadruple figures over in Rio de Janeiro.
However, aged 37 and 41 respectively, the pair are mere youngsters in comparison to the country's oldest active player: Desportiva Perilima's Pedro Ribeiro Lima, who at 58 has been turning out in the Campeonato Paraibano's top flight.
"I'm 58 years old but I feel 30," said the iconic midfielder. "My dream is to reach 60 playing football. I believe that I can, but I only want to do so if I'm helping the team. Achieving positive results is the most important thing."
Obtaining favourable results has been something that Perilima, founded by Pedro Lima in 1992, have struggled to do since making the leap from the state's second tier for the start of the 2007 campaign. Indeed, the team lost all nine of their matches during the tournament's first phase, although they did show signs of improvement as the competition progressed and almost snatched a point on their last outing against Atletico on Sunday, before ultimately losing 2-1.
Pedro Lima only made himself available for Perilima selection in 1999, but it is a decision he stands by. Of course, age has inevitably restricted his involvement somewhat, but the one-time forward has duly evolved into an astute midfielder.
"It all started as a distraction and I didn't imagine that things would have turned out they way they have," he said. "But I pleased with the way it's gone. I can still play for 90 minutes, although I can't help as much as I'd like to. I stay in the midfield, instructing my team-mates. I look to make assists, to link-up play and distribute the ball. Above all, I play to motivate my team-mates."
The veteran also insists that he can cope with the rigours of competing against the Campeonato Paraibano's elite. "Playing football is good for my health - in fact, I feel ill when I don't play," he joked. "What tires me is the frustration when things don't go as planned on the field."
At 58, Pedro Lima not only has the distinction of being Brazilian football's oldest active player, he has also outranked some legendary performers across the continents. These include the iconic former England winger Stanley Matthews, who represented Maltese outfit Hibernians until he reached 55, and the ageless Cameroonian Roger Milla , the oldest goalscorer in FIFA World Cup™ history.
Indeed, while it remains to be seen whether the Brazilian can realise his dream of playing into his 60s, his talismanic presence has certainly made Perilima popular among the neutral supporters.