Pepe eyes World Cup 2022 glory at age of 39
By Joe Wright
10 October 2020, 12:52
Portugal defender Pepe is eyeing a challenge for World Cup glory in Qatar in 2022 – when he will be 39 years old.
The former Real Madrid centre-back, now with Porto, has won 111 caps for Portugal since making his debut in 2007.
He has competed at three World Cups and three European Championships, including their triumphant Euro 2016 campaign in France.
Pepe was named man of the match for his performance in the 1-0 win over the hosts in the final, in which he made a game-high 12 clearances and three blocks to keep France at bay before vomiting after 120 gruelling minutes of action.
Competition for places in Fernando Santos' defence is now strong. Pepe started the 0-0 draw with Spain on Tuesday alongside debutant Ruben Semedo and was replaced at half-time by new Manchester City signing Ruben Dias.
However, Pepe is not prepared to rule out the prospect of playing at the next World Cup, which will begin just three months before his 40th birthday.
"You never know," he told reporters ahead of Portugal's Nations League match with France. "I'm focused on the next game, which is the most important.
"I know how old I am but also what I can give. I'm happy to see there are young people who can contribute to the national team.
"There's a lot of quality and we all have to do our best at our clubs so that, when it's time for the team to be chosen, we are all available to help."
Portugal goalkeeper Anthony Lopes will not be involved in Sunday's game after having to leave the squad following a positive coronavirus test.
Pepe says players are now prepared for such eventualities and insists concerns about the virus are not a distraction when they go out onto the pitch.
"This is our reality. This is the way the world is and we know what can happen. We are prepared," he said.
"It's not just a situation in football. When we go out onto the pitch, we don't think about it, only about winning and helping the national team. That's how I think and I believe my team-mates do, too."