Once again proving that age is nothing but a number, FC Porto's Pepe set yet another Champions League record this week by becoming the oldest player to score a goal in the 68-year history of the European Cup.
Pepe is already the oldest outfield player to play in the competition -- a record he further extended by playing the full 90 minutes of Porto's 2-0 victory over Antwerp in Group H on Tuesday. However, the veteran Portugal centre-back also weighed in with his side's second goal of the game, with a thumping header in stoppage time sealing his status as the oldest goal scorer in Champions League history at the grand age of 40 years, 8 months and 12 days.
Pepe belied his fearsomely combative reputation by revealing that his milestone goal was actually doubly significant due to a special promise he had made his mother before kick-off. "Today is a special day for me. It's my mother's birthday and I told her that I would do everything I could to score a goal," he said postmatch.
Porto coach Sergio Conceicao added: "He is perhaps, as I have said a few times, the most competitive player I have worked with, not just as a coach. He is an incredible competitive animal because he puts football and his family above everything else and makes sacrifices to be in this position at the age of 40."
By finding the net against Antwerp, Pepe broke the record which had been held by Roma legend Francesco Totti for almost a decade. What's more, the Porto captain's goal also had the knock-on effect of bumping former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo out of the top 10.
Ronaldo had been near the top of the list after scoring against Villarreal at the age of 36 years, 9 months and 18 days in November 2021, during his second stint with Manchester United. However, Pepe's strike helped send his fellow Portugal international tumbling down to 11th place on the overall leaderboard.
Here's how the top 10 looks after Pepe has leapfrogged to the top of the list.
📅 #OTD in 2005, Liverpool became European champions for the 5th time after THAT game in Istanbul 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 25, 2020
🤔 Have you seen a better #UCL game?#OnThisDay | #MondayMotivation | @LFC pic.twitter.com/iaWpFQc0Cz
Maldini scored on the Champions League's grandest stage when he notched for Milan in the 2005 final against Liverpool in Istanbul. The Rossoneri left-back volleyed in an Andrea Pirlo cross to kick things off with less than one minute played in an all-time classic. Milan were 3-0 up at half-time, but a rousing Liverpool comeback meant the match finished 3-3 after 120 minutes, and the Reds eventually triumphed via the ensuing penalty shootout.
9. Laurent Blanc, Olympiacos vs. Manchester United, 2002 (36 years, 11 months, 4 days)
The first of two centre-backs included here, the refined French defender scored a header for Manchester United in their 3-2 group-stage victory more than two decades ago that still keeps him in the top 10 to this day.
8. Olivier Giroud, AC Milan vs. Paris Saint-Germain, 2023 (37 years, 1 month, 8 days)
OLIVER GIROUD GETS UP! ⬆️— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) November 7, 2023
The 37-year-old is still getting it done for Milan. 🔴 ⚫️ pic.twitter.com/TcICIDaurx
The evergreen Giroud also staked his place in the top 10 of the Champions League oldest goal scorers on Tuesday when the Milan forward took to the skies to head home his side's winning goal against PSG.
7. Edin Dzeko, Inter Milan vs. AC Milan, 2023 (37 years, 1 month, 23 days)
Inter were two goals ahead inside 11 minutes when they faced rivals AC Milan in the first leg of last season's Champions League semifinal derby. The Nerazzuri's first goal of the tie was scored by Dzeko, who volleyed home from close range with just eight minutes played.
6. Luka Modric, Real Madrid vs. Celtic, 2022 (37 years, 1 month, 24 days)
Pipping Dzeko in the order by just one day, Modric's decisive goal came in Real Madrid's 5-1 demolition of Celtic in last season's group stage. The veteran midfielder converted a penalty with just six minutes on the clock to get the ball rolling at the Bernabeu.
5. Javier Zanetti, Inter Milan vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2010 (37 years, 2 months, 10 days)
Zanetti pinged a smart finish into the far top corner to open the scoring against Tottenham and become, at the time, the oldest goal scorer in the Champions League.
However, this group-stage game at San Siro is best remembered for a young Gareth Bale scoring an incredible second-half hat trick of solo goals -- and yet still somehow finishing up on the losing side.
4. Filippo Inzaghi, AC Milan vs. Real Madrid, 2010 (37 years, 2 months, 25 days)
A fortnight later, Inzaghi overtook Zanetti when he scored both goals for the Rossoneri in an entertaining 2-2 draw against fellow European heavyweights Real Madrid in the 2010-11 group stage. Milan finished a distant second behind Los Blancos in Group C before being eliminated by Tottenham in the round of 16 thanks to a single Peter Crouch goal across the two legs of the tie.
3. Ryan Giggs, Benfica vs. Manchester United, 2011 (37 years, 9 months, 16 days)
After falling behind to an early Oscar Cardozo opener, Giggs became the oldest goal scorer in the Champions League at the time when he restored parity for Manchester United with a crisp strike from the edge of the area.
2. Francesco Totti, CSKA Moscow vs. AS Roma, 2014 (38 years, 1 month, 29 days)
Before Pepe, Totti held the record for being the competition's oldest scorer for almost a decade. The Giallorossi great opened the scoring in the first half of a 1-1 group-stage draw against CSKA Moscow with a sweetly struck free kick, only to see his side eventually succumb to a 93rd-minute equaliser in the Russian capital.
1. Pepe, Porto vs. Antwerp, 2023 (40 years, 8 months, 12 days)
Pepe surged to top of the list by becoming the oldest goal scorer in the history of both the European Cup and the Champions League with his stoppage-time header against Antwerp.
Pepe scored his very first Champions League goal(s) for Porto at the tender age of 22 when he registered a somewhat unlikely brace in a 3-2 defeat against Rangers in September 2005.
Eighteen years and 28 career trophies later, he's scored his way into the record books.