Former Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City players feature in this team based on the most appearances in the Premier League
Since the Premier League’s inception in 1992 many great players have graced the league. Alan Shearer has the most Premier League goals (260), Robbie Fowler scored the fastest hat-trick (4 minutes and 33 seconds) and Patrick Vieira has the most red cards (8). But none of these players feature in the eleven that have played the most games in the Premier League.
The team below is based on a 4-4-2 formation and shows the goalkeeper, the four defenders, the four midfielders and two strikers to have made the most appearances in the Premier League since 1992.
David James – Appearances: 573
Up until the end of the 2009-2010 season, David James had appeared in every season of the Premier League being an almost ever present for the clubs he played for. He appeared for Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester City and Portsmouth. James also holds the record for the most clean sheets kept in the league, 173. Aged 43, James is still playing, now in Iceland with IBV managed by former teammate Herman Hreiðarsson.
Jamie Carragher – Appearances: 507
Jamie Carragher is just one of two men in this line-up to have made all their appearances with one club. The Liverpool legend made his debut in 1996 and then went on to be an instrumental figure in the Liverpool side up until his retirement at the end of last season. Also is the only player to have the unfortunate achievement of scoring two own goals in one game. Now seen on Sky Sports as a pundit with his best friend Gary Neville.
Phil Neville – Appearances: 505
Perhaps someone that didn’t get enough credit in his career until the latter stages. Sometimes seen as a bit part player for Manchester United and England he still played 386 times for United and received 59 caps. He went on to play a further 303 games for Everton, and considering they signed him for £3.5m, it turned out to be one of David Moyes’ finest signings. The versatile player was another to retire at the end of last season, and after being interviewed for the Everton job, eventually ended up with Moyes again as a coach at Manchester United.
Sol Campbell – Appearances: 503
Sol made his first career appearance in the opening Premier League season and went on to establish himself at the heart of Tottenham Hotspur’s defence. He left on a sour note though, joining rivals Arsenal on a free transfer and was never forgiven. He was a crucial part of the Arsenal defence in their successful period including the unbeaten season. He also played for Portsmouth and then Arsenal again before finishing at Newcastle. Campbell was also a key member of the England side, famously having goals disallowed against Argentina in ’98 and Portugal in ’04, he became the first person to represent England at six major tournaments.
Rio Ferdinand – Appearances: 484
Rio has spent his whole career in the Premier League bar a ten game loan spell at Bournemouth. He made his debut for West Ham in 1996 and a big money move followed to Leeds in 2000 for £18m, a British record at the time and also the most ever paid in the world for a defender. Rio had relative success at Leeds but due to financial problems at the club he was sold to Manchester United. This time for approximately £30m, another British record and becoming the most expensive defender in the world for a second time having lost that crown to Lilian Thuram. The 34-year-old has since won six titles at United.
Ryan Giggs – Appearances: 626
The player with the most appearances of them all, Ryan Giggs has featured in every season of the Premier League and has scored in every campaign bar the current one. The Welsh wizard holds numerous records but perhaps most impressive his is 13 Premier League title haul. To do it all at one club so consistently is a fantastic achievement. Now on the backroom staff as well, I can’t see Giggs ever leaving the club. Tipped as a future manager of the club, Giggs has never received a single red card in his 626 appearances to date.
Frank Lampard – Appearances: 557
Lampard is one of the best goalscoring midfielders ever seen in the Premier League. He has scored 166 goals in the league and over 200 for Chelsea becoming their all-time leading goalscorer. Lampard also made 148 appearances for his first club West Ham United where he was managed by his uncle; Harry Redknapp. A superb player, it was crazy that Chelsea put off a contract offer until so late last season. Still a crucial player for club and country.
Gary Speed – Appearances: 535
The late Gary Speed was one of the greatest midfielders ever seen in the Premier League. Speed represented Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, and Bolton Wanderers and still played in the top flight at the age of 38. He became the first player to make 500 appearances in the league. He was a pivotal player for all his sides, captaining them on many occasions, and retired in his 41st year. A fan favourite at all his clubs he scored in every Premier League season up until and including 2007-2008.
Gareth Barry – Appearances – 503
Perhaps a surprise that he has so many appearances, and it makes me feel old knowing that I have witnessed his career since starting out in 1998 with Aston Villa! He made 365 appearances for the Villans being practically an ever present in 11 years at the club. A move to Manchester City followed and he has made a further 132 league appearances for them. Now with Everton the 32-year-old has a few more years in him yet and could go on to reach the 600 mark that only Giggs has so far achieved.
Emile Heskey – Appearances: 516
A legend of the Premier League era, Heskey was a classic big and powerful striker. His days at Leicester City and Liverpool were his most prolific. These garnered 79 goals in 304 appearances between them. He showed great promise at the Foxes and such was his potential that Liverpool broke their transfer record to sign him for £11m. Heskey was a very unselfish striker and created many opportunities for others. A lot of strikers said that he was their favourite strike partner, including Michael Owen. Further moves to Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa followed. Often criticised for not scoring enough Heskey gave defences a lot of problems, and for this reason was liked by many managers. He has 516 appearances in the top flight for a reason.
Kevin Davies – Appearances: 444
Kevin Davies to partner Heskey up front would be an incredibly physical strike-force. Davies played for Southampton (twice) and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League before finding his feet at Bolton Wanderers. He would appear 351 times in the league for them becoming captain in the process. Also holds the record for most fouls (782) and most yellow cards (100). Another difficult player to play against, his performances saw him receive a well deserved England cap at the age of 33. A key player for Bolton and many feel the loss of him is the reason they are now struggling in the Championship. He is now playing superbly for Preston North End.