Forgotten XI: Players it’s easy to forget are still playing the beautiful game

Did you know that Michael Essien is still playing football?

Yep. The former Chelsea midfielder can be found in Azerbaijan, still playing at the age of 36.

Essien is just one of a number of players who you may have thought has hung up his boots.

For some, though, it’s just too difficult to retire.

Footballers make a lot of money but remember, it’s their love of the sport that gets them to this point.

And, after making their millions and winning trophies, some just want to enjoy playing while they can.

You’ve got to admire that.

Football Daily produced a video of an XI of players you won’t believe are still playing and we at GIVEMESPORT have added a couple of players of our own.

GK | Brad Jones

Twelve clubs. Four Countries.

Brad Jones’ career has been nomadic.

The goalkeeper joined Liverpool in 2010 and while he was never the first-choice at Anfield, he did start seven Premier League games in the 2012/13 season.

The Australian has found success since leaving the Reds in 2015, winning the Eredivisie title and KNVB Cup with Feyenoord.

Now 37, Jones is currently playing in Saudi Arabia with Al-Nassr, where he won the Saudi Professional League in 2018/19.

CB | Nedum Onouha

Nedum Onouha came through the academy at Manchester City and was a first-team regular, making 23 Premier League appearances in 2008/09.

But when the big-money signings began to arrive after City’s 2008 takeover, it quickly became apparent that Onouha didn’t have the quality to compete at the highest level.

He left for QPR in 2011 and spent seven years in west London.

The former England Under-21 international is now playing for Real Salt Lake, where he earned praise for standing up to Zlatan Ibrahimovic during a game against Los Angeles Galaxy in April 2019.

CB | Steven Taylor

The centre-back has played for four different clubs since leaving Newcastle United in 2016.

Taylor, who made 268 appearances across 13 seasons for the Magpies, joined Portland Timbers in 2016 but lasted just four months at the Major League Soccer club.

He was at Ipswich Town for a similarly brief spell and Peterborough United for just one season.

The 33-year-old is now playing for A-League side Wellington Phoenix.

CB | Gael Clichy

Gael Clichy has had a nice career, winning three Premier League titles (once with Arsenal, twice with Manchester City).

The arrivals of Benjamin Mendy and Danilo in the summer of 2017 prompted Clichy’s departure from the Etihad Stadium, and he now finds himself playing in Turkey with Istanbul Basaksehir.

RM | Alexander Hleb

Alexander Hleb is still playing but quite surprisingly, it’s NOT for BATE Borisov.

Hleb, who has had five separate spells at BATE, is currently playing in Belarus for Isloch Minsk Raion at the age of 38.

Hleb was a part of the Barcelona side that won a La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble in the 2008/09 season, although he wasn’t a regular in the starting line-up.

The midfielder later expressed regret at leaving Arsenal, where he had spent three years and played in 130 matches, for Camp Nou.

CM | Michael Essien

Essien was one of Jose Mourinho’s favourite players at Chelsea and he was popular among the fans, too.

The Ghanaian made 256 appearances for the Blues, winning a couple of Premier League titles along the way, before leaving for AC Milan in 2014.

The most recent years have seen Essien play for Greek side Panathinaikos and Persib Bandubg in Indonesia.

Essien, 36, is now playing in Azerbaijan for Sabail.

CM | Eric Djemba-Djemba

So good they named him twice.

Djemba-Djemba is a serial journeyman, playing in France, England, Qatar, Denmark, Israel, Scotland, India, Indonesia, Serbia and now Switzerland during his career.

It was hoped that Djemba-Djemba would one day fill Roy Keane’s shoes at Manchester United but that never happened and now 38, his career has descended into obscurity.

LM | Morten Gamst Pedersen

Morten Gamst Pedersen is something of a cult hero.

He featured in the Blackburn Rovers side of 2007/08 that was included in GIVEMESPORT’s list of the 11 Premier League XIs the streets will never forget.

Pedersen left Blackburn in 2013, signing for Turkish outfit Karabukspor.

He spent one season there before joining Rosenborg in his home country of Norway.

Pedersen, 38, has played for fellow Norwegian side Tromso since 2016.

CAM | Shunsuke Nakamura

Shunsuke Nakamura was a joy to watch during his prime.

The attacking midfielder, formerly of Celtic and Espanyol, is currently plying his trade in Japan with J2 League side Yokohama FC.

He’s still probably winning every free-kick contest in training.

The 41-year-old won the Scottish Premier League with Celtic in three straight seasons from 2006 to 2008.

He’s played in Japan since 2010, appearing for Yokohama F. Marinos, Jubilo Iwata and Yokohama FC.

ST | Jay Bothroyd

A member of England’s one-cap wonder group.

Bothroyd played for a number of clubs in England, including Coventry City, Blackburn Rovers, Charlton Athletic, Wolves, Stoke City, Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield United.

Then, in 2014, he made the decision to leave England and head to Thailand.

The striker joined Muangthong United, scoring seven goals in 18 matches, before moving to Jubilo Iwata in Japan in 2015.

Bothroyd scored 20 goals in 32 league games in 2015 as Jubilo Iwata finished second in the J2 League.

The 37-year-old is still playing in Japan, for J1 League club Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.

ST | Roque Santa Cruz

Roque Santa Cruz was a fine striker in his day.

The Paraguayan spent eight years at Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, winning five German titles, before moving to the Premier League.

His return of 19 goals in 37 league games for Blackburn Rovers saw Santa Cruz finish fourth in the Golden Boot race.

Santa Cruz wasn’t as successful at Manchester City and spells at Malaga and Cruz Azul followed.

He’s played for Paraguyan club Olimpia since 2016.

The XI

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