Eintracht Frankfurt's Makoto Hasebe is among the Bundesliga's oldest-ever players. - © IMAGO/Frank Hoermann / SVEN SIMON
Eintracht Frankfurt's Makoto Hasebe is among the Bundesliga's oldest-ever players. - © IMAGO/Frank Hoermann / SVEN SIMON

Makoto Hasebe poised to join Bundesliga's top 5 oldest outfield players


If Makoto Hasebe makes his 380th Bundesliga appearance when Eintracht Frankfurt go to Darmstadt on Matchday 18, the 40-year-old will be among the five oldest players ever to feature in the German top flight.

Hasebe made his Bundesliga debut in February 2008 shortly after joining Wolfsburg from Urawa Reds. Nearly 15 years later, and after turning 40 on 18 January, 2024, the 2008/09 Bundesliga winner is joining a select group of 40-somethings who played in the top tier of German football.

He will overtake former Borussia Mönchengladbach goalkeeper Uwe Kamps (39 years, 11 months, 10 days) to break into the top 10 oldest Bundesliga players, and will be fifth among outfield actors.

bundesliga.com takes a look at the four legendary figures older than the Frankfurt man who were still running about a Bundesliga pitch after most of their peers had long since retired...

Watch: Makoto Hasebe in action down the years

1) Klaus Fichtel: 43 years, 6 months, 2 days

The grand-daddy of them all is Klaus Fichtel. Most would have expected a goalkeeper to top the ranking, but it's the Schalke icon who holds the all-time record.

He featured in a 4-1 home loss to Werder Bremen - the only other club the former centre-back played for along with the Gelsenkirchen outfit - on 21 May, 1988, to set a mark that will take some beating.

Imago - Schalke's evergreen Klaus Fichtel (l.) in Bundesliga action against Bayern Munich.

2) Claudio Pizarro: 41 years, 8 months, 24 days

Fourth overall, the well-travelled former Peru international forward is the second-oldest outfield player ever to grace the Bundesliga.

He made the last of his 490 Bundesliga appearances - the record for a non-German player, and 14th overall - in a 6-1 win for Bremen against Cologne in what was his fourth spell with the northerners.

"I would like to play for another one or two years," said Pizarro, who won six Bundesliga titles across two spells with Bayern Munich, in summer 2015. He finally hung up his boots after that resounding win - against another one of his former clubs - on 27 June, 2020, five years later.

Watch: The best of Claudio Pizarro in the Bundesliga

3) Mirko Votava: 40 years, 7 months, 11 days

Maybe there is something in the water in Bremen, because it is another Werder player who is just behind Pizarro in fifth overall, and third among the outfielders.

Votava was born in Prague, then the capital of Czechoslovakia, but after the 'Prague Spring' of 1968, he moved with his family to Germany, and would eventually represent West Germany at international level.

The defensive midfielder clocked up an astonishing 546 Bundesliga games - the fifth-most ever - after making his debut at Borussia Dortmund in 1974, and bookending it for Bremen in a 1-1 draw with 1860 Munich on 6 December, 1996.

Mirko Votava won the 1992/93 Bundesliga title with Werder Bremen. - imago/Sportfoto Rudel

4) Manfred Burgsmüller: 40 years, 4 months, 20 days

A striker or attacking midfielder, Burgsmüller clocked up over 200 appearances for Dortmund, but was most successful in the final five years of his career while at - yes, it's them again - Bremen.

When he joined Werder in 1985, he was already 35 but had finished the previous season as Bundesliga 2's leading scorer. Burgsmüller then won his sole Bundesliga title in 1987/88, and claimed two DFB Cup runners-up medals with the Green-Whites.

But most remarkably, he scored in Bremen's European Cup game against BFC Dynamo on 11 October 1988 to set a record at 38 years and 293 days for the oldest goalscorer in European club football's elite competition. It was only broken by Portugal legend Pepe in 2023.

The late 'Manni' Burgsmüller is a legend in the eyes of Borussia Dortmund fans. - imago images / Jan Huebner

He retired from football in 1990, but still wasn't finished setting records. He took up American football in 1996, playing as a kicker for Rhein Fire until 2002, setting a record as the oldest professional American footballer in history at 52.