Football

Top 10: Premier League saints

Carrick has played almost 30,000 minutes without a red card (©Getty Images)
Carrick has played almost 30,000 minutes without a red card (©Getty Images).

Gary Lineker famously never received so much as a yellow card throughout his professional career, while England defender Billy Wright and Welsh hero John 'The Gentle Giant' Charles did likewise, but who are the Premier League equivalents of these saintly souls?

Well, less than seven days after Ryan Giggs celebrated his 1000th senior appearance, the Welshman is getting some more love.

The Manchester United star has never received a red card throughout his Premier League career - that's 45,495 minutes of football - by far the most minutes out of any player in top flight history.

Actually, Manchester United have a pretty decent record when it comes to keeping players on the pitch.

No less than four current and former-United stars make into the top 10 players to have played the most minutes without ever having received their marching orders.

Edwin van der Sar and Peter Schmeichel are two of five keepers on the list, while Michael Carrick is also in the top 10.

But Giggs is out on his own as undisputed number one. He's played 6,000 minutes more than second placed Shay Given, a quite incredible record especially for an outfield player.

In fact, he's never been sent off for Manchester United. Despite being the club's record appearance maker with over 900 outings, his only sending off came for Wales against Norway in 2001.

The then-27 year old collected his second yellow card in the dying minutes of a 3-2 World Cup qualifying defeat to the Norwegians.

After the game, Giggs revealed that was his first "at any level" and then-Wales manager Mark Hughes suggested the United man only saw red because he was his country's highest profile player.

Reds may be rare for Giggs, but he has a few yellows to his name - 26 to be precise. So when it comes to the most minutes without a booking, you have to leave Old Trafford and travel the short distance to Liverpool, to Anfield, and to John Barnes.

The ex-Liverpool and England man played 201 Premier League matches - a total of 16,407 league minutes - without ever stepping out of line. 

Wingers rarely get involved in the gritty midfield battles, so perhaps it's no surprise to see two of the game's best atop these rankings.

Incidentally, Barnes never received a red either, so he's played the most Premier League minutes without picking up either a red or yellow.

But we're only interested in the nasty stuff here. The first thing to note is Aaron Hughes and Luke Young - two defenders - make the list of most minutes without a red card. Hugely impressive stuff from those two.

Carrick likewise has spent almost 30,000 minutes on a Premier League pitch and never let his side down. For a centre midfielder, even one renowned for his smooth passing rather than tough tackling, that's quite a record.

Anyway, here's the top 10 Premier League players, with thanks to Opta and Sky Sports for the data, to have gone the longest period of time without ever having been sent for an early bath…

Ryan Giggs - 45,495 minutes

Shay Given - 39,271

Aaron Hughes - 37,670

Nigel Martyn - 33,297

Thomas Sorensen - 31,874

Luke Young - 31,722

Michael Carrick - 29,765

Edwin van der Sar - 27,919

Peter Schmeichel - 27,596

Damien Duff - 27,390

Topics:
Ryan Giggs
Football
Premier League
Michael Carrick
Manchester United
Shay Given

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