Last Sunday’s match was one to forget for Werder Bremen and their fans. However, Claudio Pizarro’s goal in the 60th minute meant that the game is going to be part of the Green and White’s history for some time to come. At the gentle age of 40 years and 25 days the Peruvian striker became the second oldest player to score in the Bundesliga.
Given the fact that the game of football has become quicker and quicker over the years, the room for players of a certain age has decreased over the years. Whilst Klaus Fichtel could go on playing until he was 43 years old (a Bundesliga record that won’t be broken any time soon), these days there are fewer and fewer players over the age of 30. So far this season there have only been 20 players over the age of 33 on the pitch in league matches.
The fact that Claudio Pizarro has managed to adapt to the increasing pace, that he has altered his game as age took its toll and made him slower is impressive. Werder Bremen has time and time relied on the striker making an impact late in the game. Despite sitting on the bench, Pizarro has become a vital part of Werder’s squad this season.
Old players making an impact is actually deeply rooted in Werder’s Bundesliga history. Otto Rehhagel, who coached the River Islanders between 1981 and 1995, had a penchant for older players. In his mind players are at their best if they had settled down and their home life was in order. A good and stable home environment leads to good performances according to Rehhagel.
Record holder Fichtel spent four years at Werder during 1980 and 1984, before he left the club as a 39-year-old to re-join Schalke 04. Furthermore, the three oldest Bundesliga goal scorers are now all players who wore the green and white jersey when they scored their last goal in the league.
As things stands here are the three oldest goal scorers in the league’s history.
Manfred Burgsmüller (39 years and 226 days)
Otto Rehhagel and Werder Bremen had some explaining to do when they signed a 36 year old striker from Rot Weiss Oberhausen back in 1985. However, after 13 goals in 20 matches the questions about this particular signing had stopped. In the end Burgsmüller stayed for 5 years and scored 34 goals in 115 Bundesliga matches. His last goal came on match day 2 of the 1989/90 Bundesliga season. In Werder’s 2-2 draw against Fortuna Düsseldorf the striker got the first goal of the match. His last goal for the River Islanders came in the DFB Pokal final that season. At that point Burgsmüller was well past 40.
Burgsmüller’s goal can be seen after 4 minutes.
Claudio Pizarro (40 years and 25 days)
The Werder and Bayern legend has stated on several occasions that all he cares about is scoring goals. All the records he has broken over the years don’t matter to him. Right now the Peruvian is the highest scoring foreigner in the league’s history, the most capped foreigner in the DFB Pokal and Werder’s top scoring player in Bundesliga history. Sunday’s goal against Leverkusen made him the second oldest goal scorer in Werder’s and the Bundesliga’s history.
Mirko Votava (40 years and 121 days)
The former German international came as a 29-year-old to Werder Bremen, but stayed at the club for an impressive 11 years. 548 games make Votova the fifth most capped player in the league’s history. Towards the end of his career at the club Votova got on the goal sheet one last time during the Green and White’s away match on match day 3 in the 1996/97 season.