There aren’t any clubs bigger than Manchester United in the world of football. However, while there is always a big influence on young players coming up through the ranks, there has always been a need for experience in order for the club to reach the highest honours available.
So, which players are the oldest to have pulled on the famous red shirt for the Red Devils?
Edwin van der Sar
When Edwin van der Sar signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2005, few could have expected the Dutchman to have the legacy that he enjoyed. United paid just £2 million for the goalkeeper, which in hindsight could go down as one of the best bits of business that the club did under the stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Van der Sar went on to win four Premier League titles during his stay at Old Trafford, before retiring at the end of the 2010-11 season.
His save in the 2008 Champions League final penalty shootout from Nicholas Anelka will remain in the minds of United fans forever, as the Dutchman won his only European honour with the club.
His relationship with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand formed one of the most formidable defensive backlines in the history of the Premier League, and he remains the record holder of most time without conceding a goal, as van der Sar didn’t concede in 1,311 league minutes in the 2008-09 season. His final game came in a Champions League final defeat against Barcelona in 2011, aged 40 years, six months and 29 days.
For many United fans, Ryan Giggs was a mainstay of the United team throughout their lives supporting the club. Whether he has fallen from grace in light of recent events, his time at the club was nothing else than remarkable.
The Welshman stayed at the Theatre of Dreams throughout the entirety of his 24-year playing career. He was part of the iconic class of 92, which also included Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and David Beckham.
Giggs remains the most decorated player in the history of English football, as he won 13 Premier League titles, two Championships and the FA Cup on four occasions.
He remains the all-time appearance record holder for the Red Devils, and is one of just 28 players to have played over 1,000 professional appearances. His final league title with the club came in 2012-13, which remains United’s last league success.
Giggs also went on to manage the club following the dismal of David Moyes in the following season. His final appearance for the club came in a 3-1 win against Hull City, aged 40 years and five months, making him the oldest outfielder to play for the Red Devils.
Raimond van der Gouw
Another Dutch goalkeeper is among the oldest players to have played for the Red Devils. Van der Gouw made his final appearance for United aged 39 years and one month in a 0-0 draw against Charlton Athletic at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman was signed as an understudy for the great Peter Schmeichel but was finally able to get his hands on a Premier League winners medal in the 1999-2000 season after eclipsing the number of performances needed. He played 14 times in the Premier League, as United struggled for a regular first-choice following the departure of the Dane.
His first-team opportunities were limited further in the summer of 2000, as United brought in French World Cup winner Fabian Barthez. He was demoted further when Roy Carroll arrived at the club and played just 17 games in his final two seasons at the club.
However, during his time at Old Trafford, he also picked up FA Cup, Champions League and Community Shield winners medals.
There you have it, the oldest players to have featured for Manchester United. Football is an unlikely sport to have players over 40, compared to its American counterpart for example where you can see players topping the oldest players in NFL history with 48.
United had a maximum of 39 in the age cap, but it’s fair to say all of the players mentioned in the list above are part of the Red Devils history.