How old should one be to play professional sports? The saying is “if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.” When Major League Soccer’s D.C. United signed 14-year-old Freddy Adu in 2004, Adu remarked, “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.”
“If you’re good enough you’re old enough” was said by rugby union player Gareth Edwards in 1968. “If he’s good enough, he’s old enough” was said of a horse in 1971. English football writer Brian Glanville wrote in 1976 (but said by a manager to Glanville about 1950), “If you’re good enough you’re old enough, son, that’s why I’m putting you in.”
Scottish football player and manager Matt Busby (1909-1994) is frequently credited for coining the saying, but contemporary citations have not been found.
How old should one be to still play professional sports? The reverse saying, “if you’re good enough, you’re young enough,” has been cited in print since at least 1988.
31 January 1968, The Guardian (UK), “Rugby Union: The mind of the youngest ever captain” by Christopher Ford, pg. 17, col. 3:
“It does make me wonder if I’m capable of it, with all these boys playing Rugby before I was anywhere—I suppose, though, if you’re good enough you’re old enough.”
A Grand National Commentary
By John Keith Pye
London: J.A. Allen
Whereas it was often the practice to send a horse to Liverpool as young as five or six, nowadays even seven is considered too young and few trainers will risk a horse at Aintree before he reaches eight or nine. A converse view is expressed in the words ‘If he’s good enough he’s old enough’.
However, the last seven-year-old to win was Bogskar in 1940 since when all the winners have been eight or over.
The Dying of the Light
By Brian Glanville
London: Secker & Warburg
George O’Rourke, the Rovers manager, who’d played for Ireland, all winks and nods, canny as they come, but human, the only manager I had ever liked, “If you’re good enough you’re old enough, son, that’s why I’m putting you in,” then calling me into his office when I was still only nineteen.
26 July 1988, Evening Times (Glasgow, Scotland), “Back at the Double” by Norman Silvester, pg. 5, col. 4:
ONE of Scotland’s best-known double acts are proving that if you’re good enough you’re young enough!
Jack Milroy and wife Mary Lee celebrated 35 years in show-business on Sunday with a sellout show at the Tron Theatre.
8 June 1990, Washington (DC) Times, “Underdog U.S. soccer team looking to shock the world”:
“If you’re good enough, you’re old enough,” Gansler said. “These young men are good enough. They’ve gained a lot of experience along the way.”
15 October 1990, The Times (Trenton, NJ), “Local Golf” by Don Delany, pg. D10, cols. 1-2:
He (Bob Kotz—ed.) began competing in major tournaments at the astonishingly young age of 14, when he won his first of more than a dozen Trenton Country Club championships. The story goes that some curmudgeons at TCC, resentful at being embarrassed by the youngster, wanted to have him barred from adult competition there.
But wiser heads prevailed. As one put it, “If he’s good enough to beat us, he’s old enough to play against us.”
Posted 11/20/2003 3:34 PM
From the Press Box by Mike Lopresti
Young and old smashing sports barriers
And in New York City on Wednesday, the MLS formally introduced the future of American soccer. Freddy Adu, said to have remarkable skills, will play next spring for D.C. United, signing what reportedly is the fattest contract in the league.
He is 14.
That might be startling, the thought of a member of a professional sports team the same age as the eighth grader next door who mows your yard for $10.
“If you’re good enough,” Adu said, “you’re old enough.”
Hard to be normal
Adu, 14, joins U.S. roster for U-20 World Cup
Posted: Wednesday November 19, 2003 8:02PM; Updated: Wednesday November 19, 2003 8:02PM
NEW YORK (AP)—Like millions of other kids, Freddy Adu will be driven to soccer practice by his mom next spring. Not much else is ordinary about this 14-year-old phenom.
And no other teen player will make hundreds of thousands of dollars in the United States and has been called everything from the next Pele to the LeBron James of MLS.
“If you’re good enough, you’re old enough,” Adu said Wednesday, a day after signing with Major League Soccer. “If you feel like you’re ready to go, hey, give it a shot.”
Football Aims for the Stars:
How the Constellations Can Affect Planet Football
By A. K. Ayre
If they are good enough, they are old enough.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
If You Are Good Enough, You Are Old Enough!
In recent times there has been a renaissance of people either really young or older. My opinion is that if you are good enough, you are old enough. This phrase is usually used with young talented prodigys, but it is also the case for older athletes.
Young guns who quickly became top gun
July 1, 2011
With 18-year-old Bernard Tomic striking another blow for the next generation on his way to becoming the youngest player since Boris Becker to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon this week, we decided to look at ten sportsmen throughout history who proved beyond any question that old adage: ‘If they’re good enough, they’re old enough.’
IOC’s Olympic age rules unfair and fickle
Last updated 05:00 08/12/2011
There’s an old adage in sport that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
The Independent (UK)
Lewis Moody: Farrell proves if you are good enough, you are old enough
Moody Views: Wales need to start knocking off a few scalps. They’re capable of so much in Australia
Lewis Moody Thursday 22 March 2012
Good enough, old enough – that seems to apply more now than ever. These kids are energising the scene.
If they are good enough, they are old enough. -Sir Matt Busby
If they are horny enough,they are old enough- LVG
3:45 PM - 25 Feb 2016
If You Are Good Enough, You Are Old Enough! A quote to live by.