A footballer’s career is a short one with normal players averaging 10-15 years at best on the field. Only a select few talents spend their entire careers at the top level of football due to a variety of reasons. Whether it’s injuries, loss of form, or lack of motivation, being a modern-day footballer comes with its own set of challenges.

Some players even drop down to lower leagues to extend their career during its fag end. And it’s easy to understand why when considering the wear and tear one’s body is put through while competing for top honours at the highest level. Add to that the physical demands that are associated with the Premier League - the best and most grueling league in the world - and you can understand why only a select few manage to play their whole career in English football’s top flight.

That said, over the years there has been a fair share of players who have defied the odds and gone on to rack up record appearances, making them a part of a select club of individuals who feature in the most appearances in the Premier League bracket. Former England midfielder Gareth Barry is the player on top of this list of most appearances in the Premier League.

Most appearances in Premier League

Player Clubs Appearances
Gareth Barry Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton, West Bromwich Albion 652
Ryan Giggs Manchester United 632
James Milner Leeds United, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Liverpool 610*
Frank Lampard West Ham United, Chelsea, Manchester City 609
David James Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham United, Manchester City, Portsmouth 572
Gary Speed Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton Wanderers 535
Emile Heskey Leicester City, Liverpool, Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa 516
Mark Schwarzer Middlesbrough, Fulham, Chelsea, Leicester City 514
Jamie Carragher Liverpool 508
Phil Neville Manchester United, Everton, 505

*Player still active

Gareth Barry - 652 appearances

After joining Aston Villa from Brighton as a trainee, Gareth Barry made his debut for the Villans in the 1997-98 season. He went on to represent Villa in the Premier League for more than a decade before moving to Manchester City and winning the 2011-12 league campaign with them. Following his spell at City, Barry also represented Everton and West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League before finally retiring. Primarily a defensive midfielder, Barry wasn’t shy to get forward and make his mark as his 53 goals and 64 assists in the Premier League suggest.

Ryan Giggs - 632 appearances

The most decorated British player of all time, Ryan Giggs was already an established star at English giants Manchester United before the inception of the Premier League. A pacey and tricky winger during his playing days, Giggs is one of the few one-club men in league history. The Welsh winger stayed with the Red Devils throughout his career and was a key component of the Manchester United dynasty that Sir Alex Ferguson created for two decades. He finished his more than 20-year-long career with 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, four League Cups, and two UEFA Champions League crowns, to name a few of his achievements. He’s also the leading assist-maker (162) in Premier League history and also found the back of the net 109 times in the league.

James Milner - 610* appearances

The only player still active on this list, James Milner made his Premier League debut for Leeds United aged 16 years and 309 days to become the second-youngest ever to play in the league. He also became the then-youngest player to ever score in the league after netting in a 2-1 win for Leeds against Sunderland on boxing day 2002. Following Leeds' relegation from the top flight, Milner went on to represent Newcastle, Aston Villa, Manchester City, and Liverpool in the Premier League. He’s a three-time Premier League winner, a two-time FA Cup champion, a two-time League Cup winner, and has also won the UEFA Champions League once.

Photo Credit: Alamy