Of the 11 oldest players in the squads, seven are goalkeepers, which would seem to suggest that most coaches are looking for experience when it comes to the man between the poles.

David James, Sander Boschker, Marcus Hahnemann and Mark Schwarzer are the four oldest players competing at the World Cup.

They are also all goalkeepers.

Portsmouth’s James, who is expected to be the starting goalkeeper for England at the June 11-July 11 finals, will be turning 40 less than a month after the final, while Dutch goalkeeper Boschker, who will probably not see game action in South Africa, is two and a half months younger.

What makes Boschker’s call-up surprising is that the 39-year-old, who has just won the Dutch league with Twente, had not played a single game for Oranje going into the tournament.

He will, however, be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Jan Jongbloed, who in 1974 was not expecting to play, but then ended up being first choice and played in the final against Germany. He also played in the 1978 final against Argentina as a 37-year-old.

Compared to the James and Boschker, Hahnemann and Schwarzer are practically spring chickens at age 37.

For Schwarzer, the World Cup comes on the heels of a disappointing Europa League final defeat with his Premier League side Fulham against Atletico Madrid.

“You just try to put those defeats behind you. I am lucky, I now have the World Cup to look forward to and that is a highlight for any footballer,” he said.

Given that he turns 37 in November, the World Cup will surely bring down the curtain on the glittering international career of Mexico striker Cuauhtemoc Blanco that has seen him amass 118 caps as of early June.

Drawn into Group A with the hosts South Africa, France and Uruguay, the oldest outfield player will be hoping that he can lead his side into the next round.

Of the 11 oldest players in the squads, seven are goalkeepers, which would seem to suggest that most coaches are looking for experience when it comes to the man between the poles.

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel, who himself is the oldest coach at age 71, is known for giving players who are considered well beyond their sell-by date a chance.

The German, who sensationally guided Greece to the Euro title in 2004, is on record as having remarked that he was not interested in a players age.

“I do not think there are old and young players, there are only good and bad players,” he said famously when coaching Werder Bremen.

If Boschker and James are the golden oldies at the tournament, Christian Eriksen and Vincent Aboubakar are definitely the new kids on the block.

When they were born, both goalkeepers were already in their 22nd year.

Danish midfielder Eriksen who only turned 18 on Valentine’s Day, and Cameroonian striker Aboubakar, who is just three weeks older, are the only two players in the 32 squads who were born in 1992.

Surprisingly, Cameroon would have another two players in the World Cup starting XI if it was based purely on being the youngest players available.

The Indomitable Lions’ German based midfielder Joel Matip is also 18, while Nicolas N’Koulou turned 20 at the end of March.

But being young and making it into the World Cup squad is not a passport to success, as English international Theo Walcott found out to his detriment earlier this week.

The Arsenal midfielder was a surprise inclusion in the England squad for 2006 as an uncapped player. He has since featured fairly regularly in the England set—up and even scored a hat—trick in a 4—1 qualifying rout of Croatia.

But Walcott was one of several players dropped by coach Fabio Capello on Wednesday when the Italian coach announced his final squad.

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