Who is the oldest footballer to score their first international goal?
“Andreas Weimann scored his first senior Austria goal against France last week at the age of 30,” notes Niall McVeigh. “Are there any players who were older when breaking their international duck?”
“Italy have at least 13 players who have scored their first international goal after their 30th birthday, Fabio Cannavaro included,” begins Andrea Ferrioli. “Here’s the top three: Marco Materazzi, first goal at 32 years and 307 days old (Czech Republic 0-2 Italy at the 2006 World Cup – his second was in the final); Daniele Massaro, first goal at 33 years and 26 days (Italy 1-1 Mexico at the 1994 World Cup, his only international goal in 15 caps); and Francesco Caputo, first goal at 33 years and 62 days (Italy 6-0 Moldova, a friendly on 7 October 2020).”
Elsewhere, Frank Hoekman offers Cees van Kooten, “who was 32 when he scored on his Netherlands debut against Cyprus in 1981”. Tom Aldous flags that “Marcos Senna scored his first goal for Spain at the age of 32”. And Paul Brack can offer a raise: “Kjell Moe scored on his Norway debut in a 4-2 defeat to Denmark on 26 August 1945. He was 35 years and 305 days old.”
“A great example is Athletic Bilbao’s legendary striker, Aritz Aduriz,” writes Adi Zalmanowicz. “He had the tough luck to be a prolific goalscorer in Spain while Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente, Pedro and David Villa were around, so only earned his first cap at 29. With a late-career resurgence, he was brought back into the squad before Euro 2016, and scored his first goal in a 1-1 friendly draw with Italy on 24 March 2016, when he was 35 years and 41 days old. His second and last goal, in a 4-0 World Cup qualifier against North Macedonia on 12 November 2016, made him Spain’s oldest-ever scorer, at 35 years and 275 days.”
We can go higher, though. “The ‘Godfather of South Korean football’, Kim Yong-sik, scored his only international goal aged 39 years and 265 days,” tweets Steve Hyde. “Jocelyn Angloma scored his first goal for Guadeloupe aged 41, though he had scored for France a decade earlier.”
Chai from Atlanta has offered us a thorough review of more names to eclipse Weimann. “It’s apt that 31-year-old Rickie Lambert (v Scotland) gets us off to a fast start, like his debut goal off his first-ever touch. That’s the same age as Peter Withe (v Hungary) and former England manager, Alf Ramsey (v Austria). Another first-touch wonder was Ramsey’s former Spurs teammate, Bill Nicholson (v Portugal). He leads the other 32-year-olds such as Len Shackleton (v Germany), Vincent Matthews (v Belgium), Charlie Alcock (v Scotland), Frank Roberts (v Wales), and Jack Smith (v Ireland).
“Raising the bar further are 34-year-old Jimmy Moore (v Sweden) and 37-year-old Singapore international Aleksandar Duric (v Tajikistan). But the player who takes the cake is US Virgin Islands’ Keithroy Cornelius (v Curaçao). He broke his international duck at 43 during a 2014 World Cup qualifier.” We need to know more about that impressive then-fortysomething and Pete Tomlin can do just that. “Cornelius was a cricketer who played one Twenty20 match for the US Virgin Islands, in which he bowled two very expensive overs, took no wickets and was dismissed for a duck,” he notes. “He also played six international matches for the US Virgin Islands football team and scored his only goal in his last appearance – the World Cup qualifier which they lost 6-1. The match was played on 15 November 2011 when he was was 43 years and 196 days old.”
“Is Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale the most expensive unused substitute in a European Cup final ever,” asks Albert from Vienna.
“Yes and no,” offers Jim Hearson. That pretty much has things covered then, Jim. “While both he and fellow 2022 benchwarmer Eden Hazard cost Madrid €100m, foreign exchange fluctuations mean that while Spurs received £86m for the Welshman in 2013, Chelsea trousered £89m for the Belgian in 2019.”
Busy days for The Armband
“Newell’s have had four captains against San Lorenzo tonight,” tweets Jamie Ralph. “Pablo Pérez (injured on 15 minutes), Cristian Lema (red card on 62 minutes), Julián Fernández and Leonel Vangioni (given the armband by Fernández when he came on as a 77th-minute sub). Has there been more in one match?”
“England can equal it with a quartet of captains versus Serbia & Montenegro in 2003,” replies Jonny Sharples. “Michael Owen began the game as captain, Emile Heskey emerged with the armband after half-time, it was passed to Phil Neville on the hour mark, before Jamie Carragher took over for the final few minutes.”
Setting sail for a long time
“When Grimsby Town start the season on 30 July, will they become the first club to play competitive league matches for 12 consecutive months,” tweets Cod Almighty, the Mariners’ fanzine.
Graeme Atkinson gets us started, mailing to say “Brentford and Fulham both did it from June 2020 to May 2021”. Andy Wright can twist the question and tweak it somewhat. “It’s a bit of a stretch calling the National League playoffs competitive league matches,” he writes, “but if knockout games are included, I’ll offer Wolves’s 14-month, 383-day Europa League season that began on 25 July 2019 (v Crusaders, first qualifying game) and finished on 11 August 2020 (v Sevilla, quarter-final).”
“What’s the longest unbeaten run of any club against their city (or otherwise local) rivals in official matches?” wondered Adrian Rogstad in February 2009, after gloating that his team, Lyn, recently celebrated 10,000 days since last losing to their Oslo city rivals Vålerenga. “Granted, we were not in the same division between 1981 and 2002, but since that season there’s been 14 Oslo derbies in the league, Lyn winning 10 and four ending in draws.”
If we discount Bradford City, who haven’t lost a derby since the late 1960s owing to the liquidation of their nominal rivals Bradford Park Avenue in 1974, Calum White’s warble from Edinburgh might take it: “It’s magic, you know, 22 games in a row!”
That, apparently, was “the song sung by Hearts fans at Edinburgh derbies in the early 1990s” and Calum’s right: Hearts were unbeaten against their city rivals Hibernian for 22 games during that period, starting with a 1-0 victory at Tynecastle at the start of the 1989-90 season and not ending until August 1994, when Gordon Hunter’s goal for the Hibees ended five years of maroon dominance in Auld Reekie.
Since then, Liverpool beat Hearts’ run by a game, with a 23-match unbeaten streak against Everton that ended in February 2021.
Can you help?
“Denmark will play France in the groups for the fourth time in six World Cups after previously meeting them in 1998, 2002 and 2018,” writes Glenn McConnell. “Has anyone else faced the same team at such a high proportion of World Cups they’ve played at, and what is the most-played tie in the competition?”
“Between 8-20 June, Anfield hosted The Rolling Stones, Elton John and The Eagles. Has a football ground hosted more individual gigs in a shorter space of time (festivals don’t count)?” asks George Jones.