Pepe has been one of the best defenders in the world in his own right over the past decade, being an influential part of the Real Madrid side which won four Champions League titles in five seasons.
The Portuguese centre back was also a starter in Portugal’s successful European Championship campaign in 2016 and has carried on his consistency while turning out for Porto in the last couple of seasons.
Now 38 years old, Pepe is at the twilight of his career, but he is still going strong, as he ran back the years with an incredible display against Juventus last night – the highlight of which included an extraordinary overhead kick clearance in the dying minutes.
After the first leg at the Estadio do Dragao ended in a 2-1 win for Porto, all the focus was at the Allianz Stadium in Turin last night. Sergio Oliviera put Porto ahead from the penalty spot in the first half to cancel out the Bianconeri’s away goal in the first leg, but Federico Chiesa scored twice in the second half to perfectly balance the tie – taking the teams to thirty additional minutes of extra time.
Sergio Oliviera scored deep into the second period of extra time to tilt the tie towards Porto, only for Juventus to throw the kitchen sink at them for the rest of the game. Adrien Rabiot scored two minutes later to make the score 3-2 for Juventus on the night, but the Turin outfit were losing on away goals and needed another goal to progress to the next round.
With the attacking talent that Andrea Pirlo’s side can boast of, Porto needed something very special from their backline to keep Juventus out until the final whistle – something that Pepe provided throughout the game.
Pepe put the cherry on top of the cake with an extraordinary bicycle kick clearance off the goal line as late as in the stoppage time of additional extra time – Juventus would have progressed into the quarter-finals if the ball had gone over the line.
But it was not to be for Juventus, as Porto emerged winners of the tie on away goals – and the football fraternity on Twitter were floored by a 38 year-old Pepe’s willingness to give everything on the line for his club (quite literally) even after having the decorated career that he has had.
Check out the reaction to Pepe’s performance below –
Joe Cole called him the most annoying player in world football.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 9, 2021
Rio Ferdinand pleaded for his highlights to be shown to every young centre-backs.
After 18 clearances and a dominant aerial display at 38 years old, it's hard to argue…
Pepe is a titan. (@Footstock)
Pepe made 18 clearances vs Juventus tonight. The next best was 8.— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) March 9, 2021
That was an absolutely unreal defensive performance from him. Played 120 minutes and captained his team to the next round. 😳👏 pic.twitter.com/J5dqbYxAmO
Pepe. Immense. Desperate to defend. I love performances like that. It takes so much character, bravery and desire as well as of course talent. What a footballer he’s been— Harry Brooks (@HB_HeadCoach) March 9, 2021
Nothing but respect for the Dragões. Pepe putting on a career best performance at 38. Corona sending Juve’s European dream into quarantine. Oliveira coming up clutch with two goals. Every Porto player did their bit tonight. Incredible performance. pic.twitter.com/tzBZ6YnLon— VERSUS (@vsrsus) March 9, 2021
18 clearances, 8 ball recoveries, 100% aerial duels won, 12 headed clearances, 2 tackles made, 2 blocked shots.— Footy Fooligans (@FootyFooIigans) March 9, 2021
38-year old Pepe just turned into prime Rio, Terry, Maldini, Nesta, Ramos and Baresi all wrapped into one.
What a performance. pic.twitter.com/Xo1DtERZWW
Juventus were throwing everything at Porto..— FootballFunnys (@FootballFunnnys) March 9, 2021
After 123 minutes, the ball was thumped into the penalty area..
38-year-old Pepe pulled out the bicycle kick clearance 👏 pic.twitter.com/tQ74cQxqKI
Pepe is 38 Years Old and just put in one of the greatest Champions League Performances of all time. Put some respect on his name. pic.twitter.com/RT6hiYN31H— Luca Bates (@AFCLuca_) March 9, 2021