The English Premier League is arguably the most demanding league on the planet. None of the 20 clubs tolerate mediocrity, meaning players need to remain at the top of their game to keep competing in the top flight of English soccer. As a result, we often see players leave England in search of minutes, especially after crossing the dreaded 30-year milestone.
Today, we will take a quick look at a handful of legends who have defied the odds and enjoyed a prolonged stay in the English Premier League, playing well into their 30s. Here are the 10 players who have played the most matches in Premier League history.
#10 Phil Neville – 505 Matches
Kicking things off is former Manchester United and Everton star Phil Neville, with him playing 505 Premier League games throughout his career. Neville, who primarily operated as a right-back, spent 11 years at Manchester United before switching to Everton in 2005. He retired at Goodison Park after eight fine years with the Merseysiders. Overall, he scored nine times and provided 25 assists in the league.
Most of Neville’s games came for Manchester United. He played 263 games for the Mancunians, scoring five times and winning six Premier League titles.
#9 Jamie Carragher – 508 Matches
Liverpool icon Jamie Carragher played 508 matches in the English Premier League between the 1996-97 and 2012-13 seasons. The ex-England defender only represented the Reds in EPL, recording three goals, 15 assists, and 195 clean sheets during his stay.
Carragher famously won the UEFA Champions League with the Anfield outfit in 2005 but did not have any luck in the Premier League. The center-back retired in July 2013 after making 737 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions.
#8 Mark Schwarzer – 514 matches
In eighth place, we have former Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. The talented ex-keeper, who featured for Middlesbrough, Fulham, Chelsea, and Leicester City, played 514 times in the Premier League. He kept a commendable 152 clean sheets and provided one assist.
The Middlesbrough icon was not fortunate enough to win the Premier League title. The Player of the Month win in February 2010 was his only notable achievement in the English top flight.
#7 Emile Heskey – 516 Matches
Former Leicester City, Liverpool, Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, and Aston Villa forward Emile Heskey played 516 Premier League games in his career. No out-and-out forward in history has played as many in the English top flight.
Heskey, who retired at Bolton in July 2016, was not the most prolific attacker of his time. In 516 EPL matches, Heskey scored 110 times and provided 53 assists, never managing to win the league title.
#6 Gary Speed – 535 Matches
Former Wales international Gary Speed has claimed the sixth spot on this list, having played an impressive 535 Premier League matches in his career. Speed represented Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, and Bolton Wanderers in the division, playing the most games for the Magpies (213 games).
The gifted midfielder, who scored 80 times and provided 44 assists, never won the Premier League title. However, he conquered the First Division with Leeds United in 1991-92.
#5 David James – 572 Matches
Former England international David James played 572 Premier League matches in his career — by far the most by a goalkeeper. James kept a magnificent 169 clean sheets during his memorable Premier League run and even provided two assists.
James represented Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham United, Manchester City, and Portsmouth in the Premier League. Most of the 53-year-old’s matches came for the Merseyside outfit (214 games).
#4 Frank Lampard – 609 Matches
Arguably the greatest player in Chelsea’s history, Frank Lampard has claimed the fourth spot with 609 Premier League appearances. The former England midfield star represented three Premier League clubs, West Ham United, Chelsea, and Manchester City, making the most appearances for the Pensioners (429 league matches).
Lampard, who retired at New York City FC in February 2017, won three Premier League titles. He claimed two consecutive titles with Chelsea in 2004-05 and 2005-06 before lifting it again in 2009-10.
Overall, ‘Super Frank’, as he is affectionately called in west London, scored 177 goals and provided 102 assists in the league. He won the Premier League Player of the Season Award in 2004-05.
#3 Ryan Giggs – 632 Matches
Manchester United icon Ryan Giggs featured in 632 Premier League matches between 1992 and 2014. Giggs, who has played the most games in the Red Devils’ history (963 matches), also featured in 40 English top-flight games before it was revamped into the Premier League in 1992.
No player in Premier League history has won more titles than Giggs. The former midfielder, who recorded 109 goals and 162 assists in the Premier League, lifted the coveted title a whopping 13 times. It will be a long while before anyone comes close to surpassing the Welsh legend.
#2 James Milner – 633 Matches*
The only active player on this list, James Milner has played 633 Premier League games so far in his career. The versatile midfielder, who joined Brighton & Hove Albion at the start of the 2023-24 season, has represented Leeds United, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Manchester City, and Liverpool in the highest echelon of English soccer.
The 38-year-old has amassed three Premier League titles in his career, two with City (2011-12, 2013-14) and one with Liverpool (2019-20). So far, he has scored 55 times and bagged 89 assists in the league.
#1 Gareth Barry – 653 Matches
At the summit sits former English midfielder Gareth Barry, having played a whopping 653 Premier League games throughout his career.
Barry, who hung up his boots at West Bromwich Albion in August 2020, spent the entirety of his career in England, representing four Premier League teams. He began at Aston Villa, followed by stints at Manchester City and Everton, before eventually retiring at West Brom. The ex-defensive midfielder scored 53 goals and claimed 64 assists in the division, winning the title with Manchester City in 2011-12.
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