By Piers Edwards | BBC |
Liberia President George Weah, 51, has become the oldest international on record after playing against Nigeria on Tuesday, according to a leading group of football statisticians.
Liberia arranged the Monrovia friendly to retire their number 14 shirt, worn by Weah at his playing peak.
“Weah became the oldest player, male or female, to play in the national team of a Fifa member,” said Neil Morrison from the RSSSF group.
The striker beats the previous oldest player on record – Greece captain Yorghos Koudas, who was 48 when he played his last game in 1995.
“There are various caveats associated with this statement,” added Morrison.
“(Namely) that (Weah’s) date of birth is correct and the fact that we don’t have complete information of all players and all their dates of birth over the years.”
Fifa made similar comments when asked if Weah, World Footballer of the Year in 1995, had made history.
“We cannot confirm this since our historical records do not include every international friendly that has taken place,” a Fifa spokesperson told BBC Sport.
Football’s world governing body added that the oldest player to have played in a Fifa competition is Dutchman Roel Liefden, a beach footballer who was 46 when he played against Argentina in 2013.
The lack of accurate of documentation means international footballers older than Weah may have played but the former AC Milan and PSG star becomes the oldest on record.
Now lying third on that list is former Liberia coach James Debbah, a 48-year-old who regularly played alongside Weah during the Lone Star’s golden era at the turn of the century and who also turned out in Tuesday’s 2-1 home defeat.
Both men represented Liberia at the 1996 and 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, the only times the West African country has contested the continent’s greatest football showpiece.
Liberia has never qualified for a World Cup but fell just a point short of reaching the 2002 finals with Weah and Debbah to the fore.