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The golden oldies of men’s sport

Age is just a number for LeBron James, Rafael Nadal, Cristiano Ronaldo and Tom Brady

Four of the top sportsmen of the modern era are defying their age by continuing to compete and excel at the elite level of sport. 

Tom Brady has announced a retirement U-turn, while LeBron James, Rafael Nadal and Cristiano Ronaldo are proving the doubters wrong with their performances on the pitch and court. 

Here we look at how the four stars have become the golden oldies of men’s sport…

1

LeBron James in action for the LA Lakers against the Phoenix Suns

LeBron James in action on Sunday for the LA Lakers

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Basketball: LeBron James, age 37

On Sunday night, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James became the founder member of the NBA’s “30k-10k-10k” club – the first player to get at least 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists in a career. There was not a name for what James had accomplished, said Brian Martin on NBA.com, “simply because it had never been done before”.

James may be the first to hit the 30k-10k-10k milestone, but we “have to keep in mind that he’s still not done”, Martin added. “He may be 37 years old and in his 19th season, but he is still putting up incredible numbers.”

He now has 36,824 career points (third all-time), 10,004 assists (seventh) and 10,150 rebounds (39th), ESPN reported. 

2

Rafael Nadal in action against Sebastian Korda at Indian Wells 

Rafael Nadal in action against Sebastian Korda at Indian Wells 

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Tennis: Rafael Nadal, age 35

At the Australian Open earlier this year Rafael Nadal made tennis history by becoming the first men’s player to win 21 grand slam titles. The victory saw the Spaniard move one clear of his “big three” rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. 

In 2022 Nadal is on an unbeaten streak of 16 matches and at Indian Wells on Saturday he came “back from the brink” to deny Sebastian Korda a famous victory, Tennis365.com said. World No.40 Korda served for the match in the final set, but Nadal fought back to force and win a final set tie-break and secure a 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (3) victory.

After winning the Melbourne Summer Set, Australian Open and Mexican Open, the 35-year-old will be aiming to continue his unbeaten run. The world No.4 faces Britain’s Dan Evans in the round of 32 at Indian Wells on Monday. 

3

Man Utd’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his first goal against Tottenham

Man Utd’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his first goal against Tottenham

Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Football: Cristiano Ronaldo, age 37 

Some football fans and pundits have doubted Cristiano Ronaldo this season, after the Portuguese star’s patchy form since the turn of the year. However, the forward was on fire for Manchester United on Saturday and hit a hat-trick in the 3-2 win over Tottenham. The 37-year-old has now scored 59 career hat-tricks and 807 goals for club and country

United midfielder Nemanja Matic told Ronaldo’s critics that they were foolish to doubt someone who has scored more than 800 career goals, the Manchester Evening News reported. “I think that every day he shows that he’s a great professional, a good example for young players, the things that happen to him he deserves 100%,” Matic told MUTV. “After more than 800 goals nobody should doubt him. He’s 20 years on the top level, 20 years the best player, nobody did that in the history of football.”

4

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady lifts the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LV

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates at Super Bowl LV

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

NFL: Tom Brady, age 44

After 22 seasons and a record seven Super Bowl wins, NFL legend Tom Brady had announced his retirement last month. Now, just 40 days on, the 44-year-old has made a U-turn and will return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his 23rd season in the NFL. 

Saying he had “unfinished business”, Brady confirmed his decision on social media. “These past two months I’ve realised my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” the quarterback said. “That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa.”

Brady’s announcement came just a few days after he was pictured with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United on Saturday. Perhaps watching Ronaldo’s display inspired Brady to keep on going, CaughtOffside.com asked.

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