Throughout the course of sports history, there have been many professional athletes who have inspired the masses. At the moment, the most popular and successful stars in the most followed sports in the world are only men who have refused to comply with the accepted understandings of when an athlete should retire and have proven that age is just a number. They have been able to stay at the very top of their sport for many years and continue to astonish the world with their one-of-a-kind abilities, performances and attitude. And that is, by the way, valid not only for athletes but for all sportsman in general – age doesn’t matter for a poker player. And if your dream is to become one, you can start in one of the best online gambling sites. Anyway, back to the topic now!
Those age-defying athletes are the most successful sports stars in the world and in the following article, we will speak about who are they, what have they achieved and how have they managed to stay in shape and maintain their status of the best athletes in their sports. We will also give you recommendations for the top online sportsbooks where you can place bets on these longstanding superstars.
|Date of Birth||08.08.1981|
|Place of Birth||Basel, Switzerland|
Roger Federer is one of the most popular and supported tennis players in the world for the last 20 years. The Swiss icon is considered a living legend not only by his fans but by all who follow tennis.
He is the richest tennis player in the world, with an estimated net worth of $440 million. At the age of 8, Federer started to play tennis and at 17 he ended 1998 with the No. 1 junior world ranking.
That same year he made his official professional debut at the 1998 Rado Open tournament, played in Gstaad, Switzerland. From there on, the Swiss Maestro has conquered everything possible in tennis. Despite having some major injuries, some of which so serious that most people thought that would end his career, Federer refused to get off the tennis scene.
The Swiss Maestro has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles (the most in history by a male player) and has held the world No.1 spot in the ATP rankings for a record 310 weeks, including 237 consecutive weeks, which is also a record. He also holds the record for most Wimbledon men’s singles titles – 8, most reached Grand Slam finals – 31 (including 10 consecutive), most ATP finals titles – 6 and most ATP Tour 500 titles – 24. He has also 6 Australian Open titles, 5 US Open titles and one French Open title.
In July 2016 Federer announced that he would miss the remainder of the season to fully recover from his knee injury, which he’s been struggling with almost his entire career. By that point, he was almost 35, which in tennis is already a big number. Many analytics believed that his outstanding career was finally coming to an end because of his age, his injuries and the Grand Slam drought spanning over the last 4 years.
But the “Fed Express” proved them all wrong. In the next couple of years, Federer enjoyed huge success, as he won 2 Australian Open titles, one Wimbledon title and multiple other smaller tournaments. He won his 20th Grand Slam title at the age of 36, while the previous record for the oldest winner in the Open Era was held by Andre Agassi, who won at 32. You can make the conclusion for the gravity of his success yourself. Currently, at 38 years of age, Federer Is still playing some of the best tennis of his career.
What Is His Secret?
It would be foolish to say that there’s only one reason behind Federer’s long-lasting and filled with triumphs career. His incredible talent, efficient movement and love for the game have allowed him to maintain his tremendous level of physical prowess on the court, even a few months short of 39 years of age. In an interview at the end of 2019, the Swiss Maestro shared some thoughts and secrets about the longevity of his outstanding career. Here are some of the secrets for his insane success:
- “There’s no way around hard work. Embrace it. Hard work delivered consistently is the foundation of any successful career.”
- “You have to believe in the long-term plan you have, but you need the short-term goals to motivate and inspire you.”
- “Constantly adapt to evolve. Play through pain, play with problems, play in all sorts of conditions.”
- “Identify the skills that you need to acquire to excel, and constantly learn and develop those skills.”
- “Win matches quickly”. Federer has a relatively quick style of play, which has helped him win more matches in less than 60 minutes than any other active player.
- Pierre Paganini. The Swiss fitness coach who has been with Federer for 20 years.
- Rest is a key productivity factor. Recovery is extremely important and Federer often sleeps for 11-12 hours per night.
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|Date of Birth||30.12.1984|
|Place of Birth||Akron, Ohio, U.S.|
|Current Team||LA Lakers|
LeBron James is often regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time. The 6ft 8in tall power forward currently is playing for the LA Lakers in his 17th season in the NBA. His mother had him when she was 16 and he had a pretty rough childhood.
He started playing basketball at the age of nine after he moved to live with the local sports coach Frank Walker, because his mother decided that her son would be better off in a more stable household.
From the moment he started playing as a kid, everyone around him saw that there’s something special about him. He was recruited by St. Vincent-St. Mary High school to join their basketball team in 1999. There, he made a name for himself as a future star and very shortly the whole United States had heard his name. Because of his monstrous talent and huge potential, James skipped college basketball altogether. He was recruited by the Cleveland Cavaliers at the age of 18, being the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft.
From there on, year after year, James has been impressing the world and stamping his name in the NBA history books. Breaking record after record, winning award after award, The King currently holds the 3rd position in the all-time NBA scoring list. His accomplishments include three NBA championships, four NBA MVP awards, three NBA Finals MVP awards and two Olympic gold medals. He has been in the NBA All-Star selection every single season since his debut. James’ current net worth is estimated to be around $480 million, but he has the potential to earn $1 billion over the course of his entire career.
As King James is 35 years old now, many basketball fans and specialists didn’t think that it is possible for him to continue play on the level he had for the last 16 years. But he is still the dominating force, not only in the Lakers team but in the whole NBA league. He was selected to be one of the captains in the NBA All-Stars 2020 in Chicago, alongside the 25 years old Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo.
No other high-performance athlete in the world has performed more quick sprints, sudden stops, explosive jumps and hard landings over the past 20 years than The King. James has played more than 57,000 minutes in more than 1400 regular season and playoff games, not counting international competitions. So how does he do it? How is The King being able to play at such a high level, for such a long period of time and now at an age which not many NBA pros can still compete?
What Is His Secret?
First of all, James has very rare genetics. His physique is unique and even in the world of professional sports, The King is an absolute monster. His body can just absorb a lot more punishment than the average basketball player. He is, by all means, a gym rat and a workout fanatic with an outstanding work ethic. Another very important factor is that LeBron has an extremely high basketball IQ.
He understands and reads the game even better than most coaches and is a master of pacing himself. Knowing when to put in that extra effort and when to minimalize the workload is crucial for staying so strong for so many years in the world’s toughest and most prestigious basketball league. James knows how to conserve his energy in a game and understands that playing sometimes fewer minutes extends his career.
He is one of the most athletic people in the world. He has a team of experts who take care of his fitness and food regimes. Every now and then he cuts out entire food groups in order to strictly follow certain diets. Reports suggest that he spends around $1.2 million a year to keep his body in top shape.
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|Date of Birth||03.08.1977|
|Place of Birth||San Mateo, California, U.S.|
|Current Team||New England Patriots|
Tom Brady is considered the greatest quarterback of all time. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. Initially, he served as a backup quarterback and played in just one game during his first season.
The 2001 season was a different story. Brady took over and proved himself a strong leader with a unique view of the game. Since then, Tommy Terrific, as he is often called, became the most successful athlete ever to play the sport.
Brady has played in nine Super Bowls, winning six of them, the most of any player in NFL history. He has been named the Super Bowl MVP 4 times and NFL MVP 3 times, being the oldest player to have won either award. He hasn’t missed a single game due to injury, since suffering a torn knee in Week 1 in 2008. Since 2009, he’s played in 156 regular-season games plus 23 playoff games.
If he retired when most other quarterbacks do, around 30-35, he probably wouldn’t be either in our list or in the NFL history books. In the 2019 NFL season, he officially became the oldest active player in the league. His remarkable statistics during the supposed twilight of his career show truly that age is just a number and people should not be influenced so much by age.
Since turning 37 years old, Brady has been in four Super Bowl finals, winning three of them and becoming the finals’ MVP twice. With New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick maximizing the strategy to best fit Brady’s strengths, he could continue to dominate for years to come, despite being 42 years old.
What Is His Secret?
Brady credits much of his longevity to an extremely strict diet that forbids many foods that people believe to be harmless. He avoids white flour, white sugar, coffee, caffeine, MSG, alcohol, dairy products, nightshade vegetables, and even several types of fruit. His personal chef reveals that 80% of what Brady eats is organic vegetables and the other 20% is lean meat – grass-fed organic steak, duck, chicken and fish (mostly wild salmon).
Another very important factor that has helped Brady to continue playing at a top-level to this day is the fact that he loves his job, doesn’t mind going to work and appreciates how fortunate he is to have found a profession that he loves. The 6 times Super Bowl champion said that he still has more to prove and is still a kid in heart, as he completed his 20th NFL season.
“I feel like that every day. I go out there and I play, throwing the ball around to these receivers – you think when I was a kid in the parking lot throwing the ball to my friends, and now throwing to the best athletes in the world and getting paid for it…In a lot of ways, I’m still doing it as a kid. I feel like a kid and I think it’s important to still look at it like that“
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|Date of Birth||03.10.1981|
|Place of Birth||03.10.1981|
|Current Team||AC Milan|
Zlatan Ibrahimović is an absolute monster of a football player. The charismatic Swede is known for his outstanding career, unbelievable goals, wild temper and gigantic self-confidence. Ibrahimović has spent his entire life proving people wrong.
The greatest Swedish football player has been one of the biggest and most colourful football stars in the world for the last two decades. He has won multiple trophies in the biggest leagues in Europe, leading his teams with his incredible physicality, technical ability and finishing.
He is one of the three active football players with more than 500 career goals (we all know who the other two are). After he managed to score in his debut for the Rossoneri in January 2020, he now has scored official senior goals across the top leagues in four separate decades. At 38 years of age, it is unthinkable that he is able to perform at such a high level and maintain his physique, let alone score brilliant goals.
“Age is just a number. Your head decides how young you are, how old you are. So, this year I decided I am very young.“ Zlatan Ibrahimović
Despite having one of the biggest egos in the game, Zlatan Ibrahimović is also one of the most loved footballers who is a living proof that age doesn’t have to slow you down. Currently, the man who calls himself a lion and talks about himself in third person is one of the oldest football players in Europe. He re-joined one of his former clubs AC Milan to help the team find its true identity, after several wasteful years.
A very young squad, filled with potential but lacking the leader figure who can assemble, inspire and motivate them. Ibrahimović has been a mentor to young players with the potential to became superstars before, notably Marcus Rashford. He not only helped the youngster in his development, but he shined in the toughest football league in the world throughout his whole stay with the Red Devils. A very serious and unfortunate injury (he tore his ACL) was the main reason for him the leave the most successful English club and he took refuge in the U.S., joining the MLS side LA Galaxy.
This was a very thoughtful decision, as dropping down the level would give him a legitimate shot of a comeback. He literally tore apart the MLS, scoring 53 goals and making 17 assists in 58 appearances. Despite his age, he continued to break records and he became one of the two players who have scored in every single minute of a game (the other being Cristiano Ronaldo). After the 2019 MLS season was over, Ibracadabra decided it is time to go back to Europe, instead of hanging out the football boots. It really seems like that the lion has no breaks and no intention of retiring, despite being a few months short of 39 years of age.
What Is His Secret?
First of all, Ibrahimović, who also has a black belt in taekwondo, by the way, is obsessed with the drive for perfection. The ego, the marketing and the persona all mask the hard work and sacrifice Zlatan has put in to stay at the top for so long. Strict diets and intense workouts are very important, but not as much as motivation.
The legendary goal scorer has also said multiple times that he likes to consider club doctors and physicians as friends, first and foremost, as they are the ones who are always looking out for players’ health. It is important to have a doctor with a strong personality, who knows your body and can help you be 100% healthy, not 99%.
“Only God knows who will go through.“
“It is hard to ask him“
“You are talking to him“
But arguably, the most important factor for Zlatan’s inspiring and long-lasting career is his self-belief and hunger for success. He has said that in order to make it as a professional athlete, you need to have talent of course, but that’s only around 30% of the recipe. The rest is hard work, motivation and self-confidence. Zlatan is known for demonstrating his huge self-confidence, regardless of the situation, the country or the fact that the whole world is watching.
His captivating ego might seem entertaining and his quotes perfect for the front pages of the newspapers, but this quality is very helpful to motivate and believe you can do anything, as well as install the fear factor in the opponents. In the video below you can see some of Zlatan’s most iconic and entertaining quotes, that will certainly make you smile and teach you a little something about self-esteem.
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|Date of Birth||05.02.1985|
|Place of Birth||Madeira, Portugal|
Well, it doesn’t get much better than this. We certainly doubt that there’s a person in the whole world who hasn’t heard the name of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese phenomenon who took over the world of football is considered as the greatest football player of all time.
And rightfully so. The Madeira born footballer has so many trophies, achievements and records to his name that we would probably have to write a novel instead of an article just to list all of them.
His personal accomplishments look unreal and impossible. He has won 5 times the Best FIFA Player of the Year, 4 times the UEFA Best Player in Europe and 5 times the Ballon D’or, just to name a few. An absolute machine, Cristiano has managed to become not only the best football player but one of the greatest athletes in any sport in the world. And he’s still going strong. He recently celebrated his 35th birthday and it doesn’t seem that he plans to slow down any time soon. In a recent interview taken just after his birthday, he revealed that he wants to play until 40 and insisted he will stop when he has no incentives.
Prior to joining Juventus, at the age of 33, Real Madrid’s coaching staff performed a series of tests on Ronaldo’s body and the results indicated that he had the physical condition of a 23-year old. A year and a half later, at the Juventus medical centre, his physical state is being compared to a 20-year old. He has a fat content of 7%, while the average for a professional footballer (at a top league and not older than 29) is around 11-12%. He has a muscle mass of 50%, while the average figure of other professionals is 45-46%. Unbelievable.
When he moved to Italy, it was assumed that he would no longer be such a threat to the opposition and he would become slower and less durable, because of his age, different teammates and different style of play in the league. But Ronaldo keeps on doing Ronaldo stuff, scoring goals and breaking records. For club and country, he has now scored more than 700 goals and it won’t be too late when CR7 will officially become the greatest goalscorer to have ever kicked the ball. He recently broke another record, after becoming the first person to reach 200 million followers on Instagram.
What Is His Secret?
Work. Work. Work. Numerous times, Ronaldo’s teammates have stated that he is the first on the training ground in the morning and is the last to go home in the evening. He is a workaholic, with extreme levels of dedication and motivation. Ronaldo has his own programme that comprises of five gym sessions a week, plus pilates and swimming. He has also instructed his personal trainers to intervene to prevent him from overtraining, although it is difficult for them to know where to set the limit given his extraordinary physical state.
Diet is obviously crucial for any athlete, and there are no cheat days where Ronaldo is concerned. He has six meals a day, all based around a diet of protein and carbohydrates. Pasta and chicken are his main foods and they are always cooked without salt or oil. CR7 insists rest and sleep are essential for living the healthiest life possible. He sleeps at least 8 hours every night and he often takes 90 minutes sleeps during the day too. He puts mental health as being key to being happy on the pitch as well as off it. He loves spending time with his family and friends as that keeps him relaxed and with a positive mindset.
But all of those things can be considered standard for the top athletes in the world. What separates Ronaldo from the rest is his mentality. His hunger for success and desire to be the best in the world are the true reasons behind his achievements and why he keeps performing at such a level at the age of 35. His picture can easily be put next to the self-motivation meaning in the dictionary. His high-performing longevity stands out not just in football, but in all sports in general.
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Well, there it is. Our list of the most successful sports stars who prove that age is just a number. You can see that each one take great care of his body, lifestyle, eating regime and more. What unites them all? Hunger. Hunger for success, love for the game and determination to be the best they can be. Yes, those athletes spend millions to stay fit and live healthily, and no average person can spend such amounts, but in the end, the most important thing is self-belief and never-give-up attitude.
Age is just a number and the old-fashioned understandings of when an athlete should retire have been crushed by each one in our list. They are living examples that anything can be achieved at any age. They inspire millions around the world and by the looks of it, they will keep doing it for many years to come. In case you’ve been inspired by some of the athletes in our list, and you like to play Fantasy games, visit our article about the best Daily Fantasy Sport site and learn helpful tips about DFS betting.