Euro 2016

Old is gold as veterans roll back years with distinction

These veterans Ricardo Carvalho, Gianluigi Buffon, Gabor Kiraly (above), Gareth McAuley and Andres Iniesta show little sign of age as they continue to prove their worth in donning the colours of their respective countries at Euro 2016.
These veterans Ricardo Carvalho, Gianluigi Buffon, Gabor Kiraly (above), Gareth McAuley and Andres Iniesta show little sign of age as they continue to prove their worth in donning the colours of their respective countries at Euro 2016.
These veterans Ricardo Carvalho, Gianluigi Buffon, Gabor Kiraly, Gareth McAuley (above) and Andres Iniesta show little sign of age as they continue to prove their worth in donning the colours of their respective countries at Euro 2016.
These veterans Ricardo Carvalho, Gianluigi Buffon, Gabor Kiraly, Gareth McAuley (above) and Andres Iniesta show little sign of age as they continue to prove their worth in donning the colours of their respective countries at Euro 2016.
These veterans Ricardo Carvalho, Gianluigi Buffon (above), Gabor Kiraly, Gareth McAuley and Andres Iniesta show little sign of age as they continue to prove their worth in donning the colours of their respective countries at Euro 2016.
These veterans Ricardo Carvalho, Gianluigi Buffon (above), Gabor Kiraly, Gareth McAuley and Andres Iniesta show little sign of age as they continue to prove their worth in donning the colours of their respective countries at Euro 2016.
These veterans (clockwise from left) Ricardo Carvalho, Gianluigi Buffon, Gabor Kiraly, Gareth McAuley and Andres Iniesta show little sign of age as they continue to prove their worth in donning the colours of their respective countries at Euro 2016.
These veterans Ricardo Carvalho, Gianluigi Buffon, Gabor Kiraly, Gareth McAuley and Andres Iniesta (above) show little sign of age as they continue to prove their worth in donning the colours of their respective countries at Euro 2016.
These veterans Ricardo Carvalho (above), Gianluigi Buffon, Gabor Kiraly, Gareth McAuley and Andres Iniesta show little sign of age as they continue to prove their worth in donning the colours of their respective countries at Euro 2016.
These veterans Ricardo Carvalho (above), Gianluigi Buffon, Gabor Kiraly, Gareth McAuley and Andres Iniesta show little sign of age as they continue to prove their worth in donning the colours of their respective countries at Euro 2016.

PARIS • For Euro 2016 giants Spain, Italy and Portugal, experienced heads are proving their worth in the tournament.

Here are five golden oldies who have shone in the first 10 days of competition.

Gabor Kiraly (Hungary)

The oldest player ever to play in a European Championship, the 40-year-old is still cutting a dash with his unique style of grey tracksuit trousers.

Kiraly has also shone in a dream start for Hungary in their first major tournament for 30 years.

Only Gylfi Sigurdsson's penalty for Iceland in Saturday's 1-1 draw has got past him as he shut out highly-fancied Austria in Hungary's opening 2-0 win.

"I never said I had old players, I have good players. I still think he's one of the best players in the world," said Hungary coach Bernd Storck on his stopper.

Gareth McAuley (Northern Ireland)

The veteran West Brom defender had thousands of Northern Ireland fans singing in the unrelenting Lyon rain after heading home his country's first-ever goal in a European Championship in an equally historic 2-0 win over Ukraine.

At 36 years and 194 days, he is the second-oldest scorer at a Euro and the oldest to score from open play after Ivica Vastic, who was two years and 63 days older, when he converted a penalty for Austria against Poland at Euro 2008.

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)

He may be 38, have 159 caps and be playing a remarkable ninth major tournament, but Italy and Juventus captain Buffon remains one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Yet to concede in two games as Italy emerged from Group E as winners with a game to spare, he showed no signs of age as he careered forward to celebrate the Azzurri's 2-0 win over Belgium by swinging on the crossbar at the other end of the field - before embarrassingly falling into the back of the net.

"At this age I'm even more aware of what it means to take part in a Euro and to wear the Italy shirt," said Buffon, who is aiming to be the first player to appear in six World Cups by extending his international career to the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.

Andres Iniesta (Spain)

A relative youngster at 32, but veteran of Spain's three consecutive major tournament wins between 2008 and 2012, Barcelona's midfield maestro has been in supreme form - winning the Man-of-the-Match awards in both the European champions' games at Euro 2016.

Spanish sports daily AS' front cover read "Global Astonishment!" on Wednesday at the tributes being paid to Iniesta.

"His ability to destabilise the opposition is unbelievable. And, as the years go by, he just gets better," said team-mate Sergio Busquets.

Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal)

At 38, the defender is the oldest outfield player at Euro 2016 as part of a veteran crew of Portuguese centre-backs, none of whom are under 30.

And, after shutting out Austria in a 0-0 draw on Saturday, the former Chelsea defender refused to rule out prolonging his international career: "I have had a great time representing my country, but I don't know (about retirement). I am 38, but I feel great, I don't feel tired."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'Old is gold as veterans roll back years with distinction'. Print Edition | Subscribe