‘A wonderful example’ – Pepe takes Euros by storm at the age of 41

Most people came for Cristiano Ronaldo but it was the defender who was applauded by all after Portugal’s win over Turkey

Turkey crossed the ball into the box, Pepe headed it clear and there was a cheer from the Portuguese fans. So Turkey crossed the ball into the box again, Pepe headed it clear again and there was another cheer, a little louder this time. So Turkey crossed the ball into the box for a third time, Pepe headed clear a third time and there was an even bigger cheer. This time it came with laughter, a touch of pantomime about it, like they were fools for even trying. Did you really think you were going to beat this guy?! Kepler Laveran de Lima Ferreira? Have you learned nothing these last 79 minutes? These past 22 years?

They weren’t great crosses, it is true. It is also true that Pepe wasn’t pleased with the first of the three headers, conceding a corner from which he then towered over them all, forehead twice thudding on leather, each header firmer and funnier than the last. But it came as a nice, almost cartoonish cameo of a colossus, this character who shouldn’t be playing this well. Who probably shouldn’t be playing at all any more. Not at his age. “If you’re a neutral fan watching the game and you see Pepe playing, you would never believe that he is 41 years old,” Roberto Martínez said.

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