We all want to believe that we can remain world-class athletes well past our prime, crossing up defenders in our corporate basketball leagues and diving for touchdowns in our flag football games. Some people can actually stay in shape for decades – and on stages much bigger than local gyms and fields.
Dr. Riley Williams, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, knows what it takes for professional athletes to play into their late 30s and early 40s. "These guys who all played in these different sports for a long time really, really, really had to be focused and motivated mentally to continue to perform at a high level," he says. "Because physiologically, none of us are set up to do that for a really long, long time." Williams is the medical director for the Brooklyn Nets as well as the medical director and orthopedic surgeon for the New York Red Bulls. He spoke to 'Men's Journal' about some of the most impressive veteran athletes still playing today.
The 36-year-old forward has scored 41 goals since joining the New York Red Bulls in 2010, including 10 goals in 2013. He made his professional debut with AS Monaco in 1994 and continued his career with Juventus, Arsenal, and FC Barcelona. "Your soccer life usually lasts through your late 20s – at least at the Premier League level," says the Bulls' medical director, Dr. Riley Williams. "And here the guy is in his mid-30s who's basically our unquestioned team leader. And again, he's another guy who, if you just look at him, is just as fit, focused, and fleet of foot as our newly acquired high-school players."
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