7 Footballers You Didn’t Realise Are Still Playing

They might not be making headlines anymore, but these guys are still making a living playing the beautiful game

Eric Djemba-Djemba – 39

So good they named him twice, Eric Djemba-Djemba was earmarked as a potential successor to Manchester United legend Roy Keane when then-boss Alex Ferguson signed him in 2003.

Unsurprisingly, during his 18-month stint at United, the Cameroon international failed to take up the mantle from his Irish colleague, though he did manage to pick up an FA Cup Winner’s Medal before being sold to Aston Villa in 2005.

After leaving Villa Park, Djemba-Djemba embarked on a globetrotting career, turning out for the likes of Qatar SC, Hapoel Tel Aviv, and even St Mirren, but the Africa Cup of Nations winner wasn’t done there. Since stepping away from the professional game in 2016, Djemba-Djemba has regularly turned out for  FC Vallorbe-Ballaigues in the Swiss fifth tier.

Vagner Love – 36

Owner of one of the greatest haircuts in football history, and at one time one of the most feared forwards in European football, Vagner Love earned plaudits from across the sport thanks to a number of prolific seasons at CSKA Moscow in the mid-2000s.

After leaving Moscow to join Flamengo return to his native Brazil in 2012, Love enjoyed a whistle stop career of world football, bouncing around clubs in China, France, and Turkey/s top-tiers.

However, the one-time Manchester United transfer target presumably decided that his tour of footballing nations just wasn’t obscure enough. Then, apparently as a means to remedy this, he signed with Football Club Kariat of the Kazakhstan Professional Football League in 2020 registering seven goals in 14 appearances at the time of writing.

Jay Bothroyd – 38

The physical embodiment of a footballing journeyman, establishing himself as a striker at Coventry City at the turn of the millennium, Jay Bothroyd has gone on to make a career as a sporting nomad turning out for a variety of clubs across the globe. However, unlike many of his contemporaries who call it a day and retire to their riches the former England international has shown no signs of hanging up his boots.

In a career that has seen him turn out for no fewer than 12 different clubs as a professional, Bothroyd’s most recent sporting jaunt has seen him turn out for Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo in the Land of the Rising Sun’s top flight.

Shinsuke Nakamura – 42

After earning a cult following more than 5000 miles away from home in Scotland at Celtic, one-time Ballon D’or nominee Shinsuke Nakamura became a hero of Celtic Park during his time there between 2005 and 2009, thanks to his work-rate and passing ability.

However, what truly earned the Japanese midfielder legendary was his ability to produce pure quality from a dead ball situation. None more famously than his world-class free-kick against Manchester United in 2006 that took The Hoops to the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Despite being the oldest player on this list at 42, and more than a decade having passed since he performed heroics in green and white, Nakamura has shown no signs of slowing down. In 2020 he made ten appearances for Yokohama FC as they were promoted to the J1 League.

Tim Howard – 41

Despite hailing from a nation where seemingly every ball-based sport takes priority over the beautiful game for prospective athletes, former Manchester United and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has enjoyed a distinguished career both domestically and for the United States Men’s National Team, becoming the most capped goalkeeper in the country’s history.

Despite calling time on his career with the Colorado Rapids of the MLS in 2019, Howard’s career on the pitch doesn’t appear to be over quite yet. In March 2020, he made his return to the sport in his native US by combining his playing duties with a directorial role and a minority ownership stake at second-tier Memphis 901 FC.

Freddy Adu – 31

The youngest player on this list, Freddy Adu will forever be a legend to anyone who utilised his prodigious talents to their advantage on one of the Championship Manager games during the early 2000s.

And while the man who signed his first MLS contract aged just 14’s career hasn’t exactly panned out how many fans expected it to, it’s worth noting that Adu has still managed to forge a career as a professional despite dealing with the almighty weight of expectations placed upon him.

While it may seem like a lifetime ago that the Ghanian-born wonder-kid last made headlines on the back pages, Adu is still looking to continue his career in the game as a professional. Once tipped to by pundits to be the next Pele, Adu was recently released from Österlen FF in the Swedish third tier for “not being physically or mentally fit enough to be competitive.”

Ouch.

Aaron Lennon – 33

Despite earning his 21st, and final England cap close to a decade ago, former Leeds United and Tottenham midfielder Aaron Lennon is still utilising his blistering pace and terrorising full-backs for the Turkish Super Lig club Kayserispor.

Once poised as the man to take over from David Beckham on England’s right flank, Lennon was last seen in English football playing a bit-part role for Sean Dyche’s Burnley before leaving for pastures new when his contract expired in June 2020.

To make things even more surprising, Lennon is still just 33, which makes him younger than the likes of current Premier League stars such as Leicester’s Jamie Vardy and Man City’s Fernandinho.

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