One trend is clear over that time-span: the average age of a top-flight team's most influential players is coming down. Ten years ago, for example, 25 was the age that represented the most on-the-pitch time in the Bundesliga. This season, the 23-year-olds lead the way."Older" players are also getting younger:
While coaches are giving promising talents the opportunity to establish themselves ever earlier, the prospects for those at the other end of the age scale are not so rosy. Many players over 30 are now having to plan for their "second career" considerably earlier than used to be the case. In an interview with the football magazine 11 Freunde, Borussia Mönchengladbach's youth team coordinator Roland Virkus confirmed the trend: "The lads are already being physically and mentally prepared for a professional career at youth level. But I think the overall cycle will change again. The performance curve of the current generation is moving rapidly upwards at an early age, but it will drop off earlier as well. Many players could well be peaking at 26 or 27."Now that I have reached that "ripe old age" I guess it is time to give up hopes of making an appearance in the Bundesliga ;-) There will always be Boulder Indoor Soccer!
At any rate, the possibility of an outfield player taking to the pitch these days at the ripe old age of 43 seems distinctly far-fetched. Klaus "fir tree" Fichtel did just that for Schalke 04 back in 1987-88, setting a new benchmark for Bundesliga seniority that stands to this day. By way of comparison, 36-year-old Hannover 96 midfielder Altin Lala is the oldest Bundesliga player to turn out this season.