On 30th November Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs celebrated his 40th birthday which adds another milestone to his glittering career. Giggs has the highest number of Premier League appearances having featured for the Red Devils in every season since its inception in the 1992. But is he the oldest player in the Premier League?
To find out, let us take at the 10 oldest players currently plying their trade in the English Premier League.
10) Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United) 35 years : Not many may remember this but West Ham United was the club where Rio Ferdinand first made his name in the Premier league after graduating through the club’s prestigious youth-academy. In the summer of 2000, he moved to Leeds United when the Hammers were offered big money for the promising young centre-back. Two years later, he moved to neighbours Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson completed a £32.8 million deal, the costliest transfer in England at the time. Now featuring in his 11th season at Old Trafford, the 35 year-old has hinted that the current campaign might be his last. Arguably the finest English centre-back since Tony Adams, Ferdinand earned 81 caps for his country and featured in three World Cups.
9) Frank Lampard (Chelsea) 35 years 5 months: Another product of the West Ham United youth-academy, Lampard was a teammate of Rio Ferdinand at the East-London club until both players parted their boyhood club. Lampard made 150 Premier League appearances for West Ham before joining Chelsea in 2001 for a sum of £10 million. Since then he has featured more than 400 times in the league for the Blues and holds the all-time club-record for the most number of goals with over 200 strikes. Lamapard also became the latest English player to achieve a century of international caps and is set to play a vital role in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
8) Abdoulaye Faye (Hull City) 35 years 7 months: Abdoulaye Faye’s first taste of the Premiership came in the 2005/06 season at Bolton Wanderers then with Sam Allardyce as the manager. He also played under Allardyce at Newcastle United in the Premiership and West Ham in the Championship. His longest-stint came at Stoke City under the management of Tony Pulis. The Senegalese veteran has returned to the Premier League again this season with Hull City
7) Sylvain Distin (Everton) 35 years 11 months: In the summer of 2002, Sylvain Distin joined Newcastle United on a season-long loan from Paris Saint Germain. His impressive performances earned him a permanent deal with Manchester City where he spent the next five years. In 2007, he left Eastlands for the south-coast of England to join Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth. There Distin claimed his first and only piece of silverware of his career when Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008. The following season Pompey were relegated from the Premiership and Everton stepped in with a £6.5 million offer to prise away the French centre-back. Fast approaching 36 years of age and with over 400 Premier League games under his belt, Distin is still as reliable as he has ever been.
6) Georgios Karagounis (Fulham) 36 years 8 months: Giorgios Karagounis was a key member of the Greece national-team that won the European Championship in 2004. He first came into prominence in his home country with Panathinaikos. The diminutive midfielder then had spells with Inter Milan and Sporting Lisbon before turning back to his old club. In 2012 Fulham signed him on a free-transfer after he was released by the Greek side. Despite his age Karagounis is still the current captain of Greece with 110 caps and 10 goals for his country.
5) Jussi Jaaskelainen (West Ham United) 38 years 7 months: Jaaskelainen made his Premier League debut with Bolton Wanderers in the 2001/02 season under Sam Allardyce. The Finnish goalkeeper played 15 seasons for Bolton, 10 of them in the Premier League, until the club was relegated from the top-flight in the 2011/12 season. The following campaign he rejoined his former boss Allardyce at West Ham United where he has again established himself the first-choice keeper for the London club. Till date Jaaskelainen has made 430 Premier League appearances in total for West Ham and Bolton and last year he became the 13th goalkeeper to reach a century of clean-sheets in the Premiership.
4) Steve Harper (Hull City) 38 years 7 months: After spending almost his entire professional career at Newcastle United, Steve Harper signed for Hull City on a free transfer during the summer transfer window. Harper achieved over 111 appearances for the Magpies although his usual role was that of a benchwarmer for the excellent Shay Given. This season he has featured thrice in the league but all three of those games were losses for the Tigers.
3) Ryan Giggs (Manchester United) 40 years: The name of Ryan Giggs is synonymous worldwide with the English Premier League. The Welshman made his league debut for United in the inaugural season of the Premiership. Since then he has featured in each of the 23 Premier League seasons so far with over 600 appearances. In all, Giggs has won 13 league titles, 4 League Cups, 4 FA Cups and 2 European Cups. He also has 64 caps for Wales and is arguably the greatest footballer of his generation not to have played in the World Cup.
2) Kevin Phillips (Crystal Palace) 40 years 2 months: Kevin Phillips lit up the Premier League during his 4-year spell at Sunderland when he finished as the leading goal-scorer in the 1999/00 season with 30 goals. He also won the European Golden Shoe for his efforts and remains the only English player to have won that award. Phillips has also played in the Premiership with Southampton, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion and Blackpool before joining Crystal Palace.
1) Brad Friedel (Tottenham Hotspur) 42 years 5 months: Brad Friedel’s Premier League career began in 1997 with Liverpool. After failing to hold on to a first-team place at Merseyside, Friedel departed for Blackburn Rovers in search of regular football. He spent the next eight seasons with Blackburn until the club was relegated in 2008. He then moved to Aston Villa and stayed at the West Midlands club for three years until Harry Redknapp paid £3 million for the American to bring an end to Tottenham’s goal-keeping miseries. Between 2000 and 2012 Brad Friedel appeared in 310 consecutive league games – a Premier League record that will perhaps not ever be broken. Even at the age of 42, Friedel is in top physical condition which should be enough to convince Spurs’ manager Andre Villas-Boas to extend his contract by another year if AVB can keep his job until the end of the season.