Top Eight Premier League Veterans
With rumours still abounding as to the next and possibly final stop in David Beckham’s footballing career, we take a look at those still competing in the Premier League at his ripe old age of 37 to see what kind of company he’ll be keeping if he does come back to the division he left almost a decade ago.
8. Hilario – 37-years-old
The Portuguese ‘keeper has incredibly been in the Premier League for six years now after Jose Mourinho brought him to Chelsea all the way back in 2006. He has managed 42 appearances in the first team since his arrival but has managed just two in the last 18 months and is regularly lucky to even get on the bench in front of regular second choice shot-stopper Ross Turnbull.
His one cap for Portugal came during his spell at Stamford Bridge but whilst he managed to catch the national team manager’s eye, few others will have many memories of his spell in England and if Becks were to return to play on home soil, he would want to be on the field a bit more often than Hilario.
7. Brynjar Gunnarsson – 37-years-old
The first out-field player on the list will give Beckham some hope that there could be life in the old legs yet to trot out onto a Premier League field, but again, unfortunately, appearances appear impossible to come by for the Icelandic midfielder. The veteran Iceland international has made well over 150 appearances for Reading, but unfortunately none so far this season as he sits on the side-lines watching their battle against the drop. Again Beckham will not be looking at Brynjar as a role model in returning to the Premier League.
6. Steve Harper -37-years-old
The most dedicated second choice goalkeeper in history is still as committed as ever to the Newcastle cause at 37-years-old as he was when he joined the club as an 18 year old. In those 19 years Steve Harper has made just 197 appearances for the first team averaging out at just ten a year. He is still going strong though and has appeared in the Premier League this season as well as regularly in the Europa League. Perhaps his lack of wear and tear from matches has prolonged his career as he looks set to continue as understudy for Tim Krul for a while yet.
5. Mark Schwarzer – 40-years-old
This will start to cheers Becks up; a man still playing regularly in the Premier League in his forties! There is hope for us all yet! The Australian has been a model of consistency in the Premier League since first appearing regularly in the division for Middlesbrough back in the 1998-99 season and is still going strong. He only signed for current club Fulham at the age of 36 and has since made over 200 appearances for the Cottagers with his career league appearances now totalling 541.
He may be a goalkeeper but the Aussie’s longevity will be inspiration nonetheless to anyone at the age of 37 still considering a move to the Premier League.
4. Jussi Jaaskelainen – 37-years-old
There is not much between Schwarzer and his fellow member of the goalkeeping union Jussi Jaaskelainen, but due to the Finn having played more league games despite being three years the Aussie’s junior just edges him ahead on the list. Jaaskelainen joined Bolton for £100,000 in 1997 and went on to make 529 appearances for the club, most of which came in the Premier League.
It had looked like his career was coming to an end as Adam Bogdan usurped his number one spot at the Reebok Stadium, but his old manager Sam Allardyce showed faith in him, bringing him to West Ham and reinstalling him as a Premier League number one. Judging by Schwarzer’s efforts, the Hammers’ stopper could be going for some year yet and add considerably to his already huge total of 612 league appearances in his career.
3. Brad Friedel - 41-years-old
The undisputed Daddy of the Premier League goalkeeping elite is Brad Friedel, who at a mighty 41-years-old is still producing top drawer performances for a team competing at the top of the Premier League table.
The records the American has broken are absolutely astonishing and are ones that generally are not matched in the modern era of the game. He has become the oldest ever player for both Aston Villa and Tottenham, which at each club were records previously held pre-1950. He has also set the record for most consecutive Premier League appearances at 310 across spells with three different clubs.
Hugo Lloris may just be starting to edge him out of the first team at Spurs but his worth is clear as he is still ahead of both Carlo Cudicini and Heurelho in the goalkeeping pecking order. He has also recently signed a contract to keep him at the club until 2014 when he will just have passed his 43rd birthday. If Brad can still be going at 43 then Becks can surely keep going at 37.
2. Paul Scholes – 38-years-old
If Beckham thought that time playing in other countries might hinder a return to the Premier League then he need only look at Paul Scholes for whom even retirement didn’t stop him turning out for Manchester United. Scholes hung up his boots at the end of the 2010-11 season, but answered Sir Alex’s call to return to battle the following campaign and is still going strong now. In fact, since retiring Scholes has made an impressive 37 appearances in United’s first team, scoring five goals and is certainly not there just to make up the numbers.
Becks may well be looking at his old teammate and think that if he can still play 20 league games in a season and pop up with the odd goal, then why can’t I? After all, David is a year younger than Paul.
1.Ryan Giggs – 39-years-old
The oldest outfield player left in the Premier League, but still playing regularly for a team at the very height of their powers atop the table, Ryan Giggs is something of a footballing phenomenon.
He is the record Premier League appearance holder, which for an outfield player is an incredible achievement, and at the time of writing has already made 14 first team appearances for the Red Devils this campaign, scoring two goals taking his United total to a mammoth 168 goals.
For a player that was so devastating because of his pace and trickery in his earlier years, to reinvent himself and perform as a ball-playing midfielder is something that he deserves great credit for. If Giggs can do this from the starting point of a flying winger, then Beckham can surely manage it from his origins as a player that never relied on pace.