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The Golden Goalie: How the Goalkeeper Can Just Keep on Playing

18 December 2013 by

There are some professions in which a person can continue to work well into their golden years. Entertainers in particular seem immune to any sort of professional ageism, and while actresses might bemoan the lack of good roles for older women, it’s not as though they’re being forced to retire and shunted off to a retirement home. Older women can flourish in other areas of the entertainment industry, and at the age of 55, Madonna was the highest paid musician in the world, with a tour that grossed more than $300 million. Then there are some professions in which a person can have achieved their greatest triumphs and retired all before the age of 30, and this is definitely the case with professional sportsmen and sportswomen. Multiple Gold Olympic medal winner Ian Thorpe retired at the age of 24, and after winning Wimbledon five times in a row, tennis genius Björn Borg retired from the game at the ripe old age of 26. It doesn’t always have to be a young persons game, and there are instances when a player continues well after the laws of biology would suggest that their body shouldn’t be able to do so much. Professional goalkeepers are one such branch of sport where the player isn’t necessarily in the first flushes of youth, and can enjoy an immense longevity in their career. So how can they keep playing when some of their athletic counterparts start to think about retirement on their 25th birthday?

Use of Energy

While the physical demands of goalkeeping shouldn’t be played down, they don’t need to draw upon as much kinetic energy as their teammates, simply due to the fact that their role is largely stationary. While the onslaught of rapidly moving balls that the keeper often deflects with their own body can have a punishing effect on a body of any age, this activity requires a short burst of energy, rather than ongoing exertion.

The Diet Question

Based upon whether or not the Australian team will qualify for the 2014 World Cup, the oldest professional player in the history of the event might well grace the field. Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer will be 41 at the time of competition, beating the previous record holder- Roger Milla of Cameroon by three years. There has been speculation that an abrupt change to Schwarzer’s diet has allowed him to play on at the top level while at his age.

The Aging Lottery

The diet question and the overall health plays a big part in how long they can continue at the international level, and the variables of genetics are also a factor. Ageing affects each of us in a different way, and some of us are demonstrably less burdened by aging than others- although this is also about whether or not we take care of ourselves in our younger years.

Earlier Career and Injuries

While age forces out many professional athletes, their history in the game and any subsequent injuries are also a contributor- sometimes the demands of the game means that the body cannot satisfactorily recover from the injury and return to its previous level, compelling the player to end their career earlier. Colin Lee, who at the age of 71 is the UK’s oldest goalkeeper in an amateur side attributes his longevity to not having had any major injuries in his playing history.

Protection

A goalkeeper traditionally requires more protection than other players, although this is generally limited to wearing gloves and longer sleeves- affording the skin some protection from bombardment. Protecting your body becomes even more important as you get older, so it’s a good idea to obtain professional quality gear, which can be found at Goalkeeper Kit Direct. Maybe even Madonna might want to look, in case she sustains some kind of dance related injury…

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