Top Five: Premier League ‘golden oldies’

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Brad Friedel broke a long-standing Tottenham Hotspur record on Wednesday night, becoming the oldest player to represent the club in their illustrious history.

At 40 years, 350 days, the veteran American stopper overtook Jimmy Cantrell as Spurs’ golden oldie, and now holds that honour for two clubs after achieving the same feat with Aston Villa last year.

After signing for free at White Hart Lane in the summer, Friedel has certainly proved that age doesn’t have to be a barrier to success, helping the club in their fight for a top four finish and possible qualification for the Champions League.

But he isn’t the only OAP doing the business in the Premier League though, and GMF decided it was time to pick five of the best ‘experienced’ campaigners to place alongside the former Blackburn stopper in the English top flight.

Phil Neville – Everton (21-01-77)

The 35-year-old is the youngest player in our list of five, but has appeared revitalised in recent seasons after taking the armband with the Toffees.

Neville was part of the famed Manchester United academy, and spent ten years in the senior setup before moving to Everton in 2005. He is currently closing on 300 total appearances at Goodison Park.

An England international for 11 years, Neville made 59 appearances for his country, but called time on his career with the Three Lions in 2007 to focus on his domestic career. It’s certainly paid off, with the veteran playing in defensive midfield as well as his more conventional right back slot when called upon.

Shay Given – Aston Villa (20-04-76)

One of two goalkeepers to make the list, Given has been one of the Premier League’s best performers for 15 years now, getting his big break with a move to Newcastle United in 1997.

The 36-year-old was at St. James’ Park for 12 years before a move to Manchester City appeared to be the Irish international’s big break, but the emergence of Joe Hart saw his chances limited at the Etihad Stadium, and a move to Aston Villa followed.

His first task at Villa Park has been to help stop Alex McLeish’s side sliding out of the top flight, and he is set for many more years between the sticks if this season’s form is anything to go by.

Paul Scholes – Manchester United (16-11-74)

The veteran midfielder called time on his career last summer, but made a stunning comeback in January, helping the Red Devils to a famous 3-2 FA Cup victory against Manchester City.

He certainly started where he left off from previous campaigns, and has been one of the club’s top performers this term in their fight for the title.

Still pulling the strings in the centre of the park, Scholes began his career in 1993, and also earned 66 caps for England between 1997 and 2004. There is even talk of him getting back into the fold at Euro 2012, all at the tender age of 37.

Ryan Giggs – Manchester United (29-11-73)

At 38, the Welsh wizard shows no signs of slowing down at Old Trafford, and has enjoyed an increasingly prominent role this season as the pressure mounts at the top of the table.

After starting his career in 1991, Giggs has played for the Red Devils in every Premier League season to-date, scoring in every campaign over the past two decades in the English top flight.

With over 900 appearances in all competitions, Giggs could join a very elite group of players to reach the special mark of 1000, whilst he also has 64 caps to his name for the Red Dragon since retiring in 2007.

Mark Schwarzer – Fulham (06-10-72)

A veteran of English football for 16 years, Schwarzer got his chance in the Premier League with Middlesbrough back in 1997, spending over a decade on Teeside under a variety of managers.

The Australian international moved to west London in 2008, and has been at his best for Fulham over the past four years, helping the club to a Europa League final and decent finishes under Mark Hughes and Martin Jol.

At 39-years-old, Schwarzer is set to join the 40 club next season, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

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