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Opinion

James Milner set to emulate Gary Speed achievement

5 months ago
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When the football season finally gets underway again there will be another piece of history for James Milner, as he will match, and then overtake, fellow former Magpie, Gary Speed on the list of all time Premier League appearance holders.

Milner, now plying his trade for Liverpool, is currently stuck on 534 PL appearances, just one behind Speed.

It will be a remarkable achievement for James Milner who has enjoyed great career longevity since making his debut for Leeds United, a club Speed also served with distinction, at the age of just 16.

Like Speed, he has been a great professional and his dedication and hard work has seen him win the Premier League twice (and probably a third time when the 2019-20 season eventually resumes), the FA Cup, League Cup and the Champions League, and play over 50 times for England.

Unlike Speed though, a great deal more of Milner’s appearances have come from the bench.

In Speed’s 535 Premier League games (***Gary Speed also played 79 times in the top tier for Leeds in 1990/91 and 1991/92 before Division One was rebranded as the PL) for Leeds, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton, 520 of them were starts, making only 15 cameos from the subs bench. He would be subbed off only 44 times and score 81 goals.

Of Milner’s tally, only 389 have been as a starter. He has come off the bench 145 times and been subbed off on 94 occasions, scoring 55 goals.

When he does eventually surpass Speed, Milner will move up in to the top five on the all-time list with David James next in his sights on 572 appearances. Currently top of the PL chart is Gareth Barry on 653 matches (Ryan Giggs second on 632 appearances).

At 34, it’s unlikely that James Milner will be able to catch Barry as he would need to play in the Premier League for another three seasons and barely miss a game in order to do so.

Under contract with Liverpool until the summer of 2022 and seemingly fitter than ever, it’s certainly not impossible that he could achieve it, but it would take something really special for him to do so.

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