Brazil 2014

Pirlo and Klose in World Cup Veterans XI

rss logoMonday 9th June 2014 10:00

Andrea Pirlo, Diego Forlan and Miroslav Klose are among the stars in our XI of veterans set to be playing at their last World Cup in Brazil.

With the start of the World Cup now just three days away, we take a look at the veterans hoping to create one more piece of history on the biggest stage in Brazil.

World Cups aren't just about the bright young things strutting their stuff, but also the familiar faces back on our screens chasing one more shot at the big time. And there are plenty of them to watch this summer.

Our XI of veterans going to the World Cup includes five Champions League winners and a wealth of major international tournament experience. And they're all aged between 34 and 42...

Faryd Mondragon (Colombia)

International debut: 1993

World Cups: 1994, 1998

Remember when Colombia were among the favourites for the 1994 World Cup only for an abysmal performance that preceded the tragic death of captain Andres Escobar?

It was 20 years ago, so possibly not. England duo Raheem Sterling and Luke Shaw weren't even born. But Faryd Mondragon needs no reminding - he was part of that squad and, naturally, is the only player from USA 94 who'll still be active at this summer's tournament.

A career that has taken in club football in eight different countries will continue in Brazil with Mondragon turning 43 during the group stages. Great story. Great name.

Mario Yepes (Colombia)

International debut: 1999

World Cups: None

Colombia boss Jose Pekerman must have something of a penchant for the older man because as well as selecting the oldest player at this World Cup he's also gone and picked the oldest outfield player.

Mario Yepes, 38, made his international debut in 1999 and was part of the squad that won the 2001 Copa America, although he's still waiting for a taste of World Cup action.

This will be his last chance - the former AC Milan man and mainstay of the Colombia defence is retiring after the tournament.

Rafael Marquez (Mexico)

International debut: 1997

World Cups: 2002, 2006, 2010

The elegant Rafael Marquez made his Mexico debut in 1997 but missed out on the following year's World Cup. No matter; he's been a familiar figure ever since, captaining his country through each of the next three tournaments and this summer is set to become the first player to achieve that feat at four World Cups.

Now back in his homeland with Leon, any semblance of pace is merely a memory for the 35-year-old these days, but the range of passing that saw him win the lot in seven years at Barcelona remains. Let's hope he turns it on in Brazil.

Daniel van Buyten (Belgium)

International debut: 2001

World Cups: 2002

The array of youthful talent in Marc Wilmot's Belgium squad has really captured the public's imagination, but it's not all about Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.

Experienced centre-back Daniel van Buyten is also lurking in the squad. The 36-year-old has been a bit-part player at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola but still made more than enough appearances to earn a fourth Bundesliga title in eight seasons in Bavaria.

Given the depth of defensive talent in the Belgium squad, the lanky centre-back might have to settle for further bench duty in Brazil.

Ivica Olic (Croatia)

International debut: 2002

World Cups: 2002, 2006

If we're going to pretend that this team would have ever have to line up alongside each other, pace would inevitably be an issue. That makes the presence of Ivica Olic quite handy.

The busy Croatian has retained enough of his swiftness to ensure his nuisance value remains and after a fine season with Wolfsburg, he's in Niko Kovac's squad for Brazil.

Hardly surprising - his manager was a team-mate at international level for half a dozen years and both have represented Hertha Berlin, Hamburg and Bayern Munich. Expect Olic's flexibility to be utilised this summer.

Giorgos Karagounis (Greece)

International debut: 1999

World Cups: 2010

Theoretically, it's possible to watch Greece play at a major tournament without mentioning their shock win at Euro 2004, but no commentator has managed it yet.

Classy playmaker Giorgos Karagounis was a key figure in that success, scoring in the opening game, but was suspended for the final. Not a great one to miss in the long history of Greek football.

He kept plugging away, though, leading the team at the 2010 World Cup and scoring at Euro 2012. Now 37, he's still back for more in Brazil so expect lots of the usual pointing as he presides over free-kicks and corners.

Andrea Pirlo (Italy)

International debut: 2002

World Cups: 2006, 2010

Reports that Andrea Pirlo was born as a 35-year-old playmaker remain unconfirmed, but sometimes it does feel like the Italian has been around forever.

After a decade of prompting in the Milan midfield - winning two Champions Leagues - he switched to Juventus and has been the pivotal figure in three consecutive Serie A titles. PS. He won the 2006 World Cup too.

This will be his sixth major tournament with Italy, and with England first up in Manaus, maybe just maybe there's another Panenka with Joe Hart's name on it.

Frank Lampard (England)

International debut: 1999

World Cups: 2006, 2010

Ashley Cole's World Cup expulsion was explained in terms of England manager Roy Hodgson's determination to proceed with a youthful looking squad this summer.

As a result, you could forgive the erstwhile left-back for perusing the list of names and stopping nonplussed at the sight of long-time Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard still clinging onto his place.

The 35-year-old shooting machine will appear at his third World Cup this summer and this time he's even got goal-line technology around to help add to his tally of 29 international goals.

Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

International debut: 2002

World Cups: 2002, 2010

The Golden Ball winner from four years ago, Diego Forlan returns for more World Cup action with Uruguay.

It's been a strange old career path for the former Manchester United forward since his superb efforts in South Africa, with his most recent club appearances coming in Brazil and Japan.

The 35-year-old is playing a back-up role to Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani at international level these days but remains a popular figure. Given his underwhelming spells at United and Inter, group stage goals against England and Italy look inevitable.

Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)

International debut: 2002

World Cups: 2006, 2010

Wilfried Bony's goalscoring form has put Didier Drogba's international place in jeopardy for the first time in a decade but it wouldn't be a huge shock to see the talismanic target man respond with a big effort in Brazil.

The 36-year-old has a reputation as a big-game player but it hasn't always been that way at international level - missing penalties in the finals of the 2006 and 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals. He'll be hoping to make some better memories this summer.

Miroslav Klose (Germany)

International debut: 2001

World Cups: 2002, 2006, 2010

One man who has saved his best performances for the international game is Miroslav Klose.

There seems almost a begrudging reluctance to see the Germany striker surpass Ronaldo as the 15-goal record scorer in World Cup finals, but here's the thing: the history books don't care about reputations. You've got to do it.

And Klose has - 14 times and counting on the biggest of stages. He's 36 on the eve of the tournament and going into this one after a so-so season with Lazio.

But form hasn't stopped him before. Jogi Low's one-man Plan B could come alive again.

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