Players' ages are seemingly more significant than ever before. Be it a starlet or a stalwart, a player can be defined heavily by his age. As a result, there are more than a few cliches that can be identified and thet are brought together here in the Footballer's Timeline:
3 - started kicking a ball
13 - playing for Under-15s local side, possibly Wallsend Boys Club, despite being two years younger
14 - Rejected by professional club for being "too small"
17 years and 113 days - Becomes club's youngest ever player, when he makes debut, as substitute, in the Carling Cup.
17 years and 117 days - Becomes club's youngest ever League player, when he makes debut, as substitute.
17 years and 123 days - Becomes club's youngest ever goalscorer. Even if goal is tap-in, player will instantly become one to watch.
18 - signs 5-year contract. called up by Under-21s.
19 - England debut. Fears of burnout are raised in the media.
20 - Three points on driving licence.
20 - Age at which a youngster, having worked his way through the club's Academy, is farmed out on loan to a lower-league club. Although this move is officially sanctioned in order for the player to gain first-team experience, it is in fact a way of preparing the player for the lower-league football they'll face when they are released the following summer, after finding their first-team opportunities limited.
21 - People begin to tend to forget he is still only 21.
22 - A watershed. At this point onwards, a player is allowed to use the phrase "at this stage of my career, I need to be playing first-team football". This stage of his career will, in fact, last about 15 years.
23 - Too old for the Under-21s, and not good enough for the full national side, a player's England B career begins.
28 – the absolute final age possible to be signed from non-league and also the point at which all blokes in the country can officially admit to themselves and their mates that “they’re not going to make it”
28 – also the age when all outfield players are considered to be at their peak.
28 - also the age where chronic injury forces the player to retire from the game at the age of 28. The player did not take this decision lightly, and will miss the matchday buzz, but wants to be able to play football in the garden with his children while he still can
31 - Age at which international retirement is announced, in order to concentrate/focus on club commitments. Such a decision will be credited with adding two or three years on to the player's career
32 – goalkeepers are said to reach their peak
32 – Player is approached to come out of international retirement
33 - Veteran status achieved. Players still at the top level will be labelled "evergreen"
34 – Player reveals that he is taking his coaching badges
35 - Former international player now legally eligible for move to Qatar.
37 - Outfield player's career nears its end, and the player smugly reveals how he is taking each game as it comes and just enjoying it. Others will observe with awe how the player has "looked after himself".
40 – goalkeepers travel the country as emergency cover for teams with a goalie injury crisis. Any move will, of course, be subject to special dispensation.