The Premier League is widely regarded as one of the most physical football leagues in the world, and players need to be at their best physical best to survive. As such, older players usually seek more forgiving pastures once they are past their physical prime. However, a select few have gone on to appear in the Premier League at an age when many of their counterparts are embarking on coaching careers or warming seats in television studios. Below is our list of the oldest players to grace the English top-flight.
Top 10 Oldest Players in Premier League History
10. Edwin Van Der Sar (40 years, 6 months, 23 days)
The Dutch goalkeeper was regarded as a short-term fix when he moved to Manchester United in 2005, just a few months shy of 35. However, Van Der Sar not only won everything there was to win with the Red Devils, he ended up being the answer to their goalkeeping problems for six long years. United follows Ajax and Juventus in Van Der Sar’s resume, and it is simply remarkable that he was able to play at the highest level for so long.
9. Teddy Sheringham (40 years, 8 months, 28 days)
Teddy Sheringham is not only the oldest outfield player in the list, he is also the oldest player to ever score in the Premier League, managing to do that in his penultimate top-flight game. After stints with Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur, Sheringham moved to Manchester United where he won the league title three times. After another stint with Tottenham, Sheringham moved to West Ham where he continued to play past the age of 40.
8. Jens Lehmann (41 years, 5 months)
The German keeper had a fruitful career with Arsenal that saw him win the Premier League in 2003-04 and be part of Arsenal’s Invincibles squad that went the entire season unbeaten. However, the game in which he became the oldest Arsenal player to play in the Premier League came much later. After leaving Arsenal in 2008, Lehman ended his career after a brief spell with VfB Stuttgart. However, an injury crisis at Arsenal prompted him to come out of retirement and play a single Premier League game for the Gunners in 2011.
7. Kevin Poole (41 years, 5 months, 11 days)
This legendary goalkeeper had a career spanning 32 long years, so it’s no surprise to find him on this list. Poole trotted out for his last Premier League appearance with Bolton when he was 41, but that is far from his final entry in the record books. A few years later, he was still playing for Burton Albion, aged 48, becoming one of the oldest players to play in the FA Cup and the entire football league. A couple of years later, he came out of retirement due to a goalkeeping crisis at Burton, becoming a registered player at 50-years-old!
6. Neville Southall (41 years, 5 months, 25 days)
The Welshman is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation and had a long career to back those claims up. He kept goal for Everton for 19-long years, but his record-setting appearance did not come for the Blues. Towards the end of his career, he joined Bradford City as a player-coach, essentially their fourth-choice goalkeeper. Injuries to all three keepers before him led him to take the field in a West Yorkshire derby against Premier League rivals Leeds United. He did not have the best of games, though – Leeds won 2-1 with a visibly overweight Southall left stranded for both goals.
5. Mark Schwarzer (42 years, 5 months, 8 days)
Aussie keeper Mark Schwarzer is perhaps best known for his time at Middlesbrough, for whom he made 367 Premier League appearances. However, his record-breaking appearance came much later. Towards the end of his career, Schwarzer had signed on as a backup keeper for Chelsea. An injury to Petr Cech saw Schwarzer get a run in the first-team at 41 years of age. He signed for Leicester City the following season and an injury to Kasper Schmeichel saw him have a run in the Leicester first-team at the ripe old age of 42.
4. Brad Friedel (42 years, 5 months, 23 days)
Despite starting his career in England with Liverpool, the American keeper is most famous for his stint with Blackburn Rovers, where he made a total of 290 Premier League appearances. Friedel then moved from Blackburn to Aston Villa, where he set a record for being their oldest player in 2011. But he wasn’t done yet. After his Villa contract had expired, Tottenham signed him on a two-year deal. In 2012, Friedel became the oldest player to play for Spurs in the Premier League, even managing to keep new arrival and France No 1 Hugo Lloris out of the first eleven. Lloris though, soon reclaimed his starting spot and Friedel was reduced to reserve keeper again. But an injury to Lloris in 2013 saw Friedel return to the starting line-up one last time, at the ripe old age of 42 years and five months.
3. Steve Ogrizovic (42 years, 7 months, 24 days)
Steve Ogrizovic may be an unfamiliar name to younger fans, but the Englishman is a Coventry City legend, having made more than 600 appearances for the club. After brief stints at Chesterfield, Liverpool and Shrewsbury Town, Ogrizovic joined Coventry in 1984 and would remain there for the next 16 years. Towards the end of his career, Ogrizovic had lost the No 1 jersey to Magnus Hedman, but was handed a start in Coventry’s final home game of the 1999-2000 season so that he could have one last goodbye before hanging up his gloves.
2. Alec Chamberlain (42 years, 10 months, 23 days)
Chamberlain’s resume includes some of the top clubs in England – Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea – but he never got to make a single league appearance for any of those clubs. The majority of his Premier League career came with Watford, who he joined in 1996 and stayed with until 2007. Chamberlain was the first-choice keeper when Watford were promoted to the Premier League in 1999, but they went straight back down to the Championship. A lot of his time at Vicarage Road was spent playing in the Championship, but Chamberlain was still at the club when Watford made their much-awaited comeback to the Premier League in the 2006-07 season. He got his chance to rewrite the record books when he came on as a substitute in a league match in 2007.
1. John Burridge (43 years, 5 months, 11 days)
John Burridge, or Budgie as he is popularly known, had an astonishingly long playing career that began in the sixties and ended close to the dawn of the new millennium. Incredibly, he donned the jerseys of 29 clubs and was 46 when he finally decided to hang up his boots. His record-breaking appearance came three years prior. In 1995, City brought in Burridge as an emergency backup to their three goalkeepers. As fate would have it, he got his chance to come on in a game against Newcastle United, for whom Burridge was also moonlighting as a goalkeeping coach, alongside being a player for City. An injury to City keeper Tony Coton meant Burridge had to come on at halftime, making him the oldest player ever to play in the Premier League. And he went on to keep a clean sheet as well!