Premier League players with the most appearances of all time

A list of the top 30 players that have made the most Premier League appearances.

By James Descombes Published: 9 August 2022 - 10.16am

Despite having 38 Premier League games a season (since 1995/96), racking up appearances isn’t so easy – you’ve got to avoid relegation, injury, poor form and incoming transfers that threaten your place in the team.

So these 30 players have achieved something special – the highest amount of appearances in Premier League history. 

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30. Gareth Southgate (426 apps)

Clubs: Crystal Palace, Aston Villa & Middlesbrough

The England manager is often praised for his calm and assured approach on the touchline, and he was much the same as a player.

Technically gifted, Southgate also read the game extremely well. He excelled at centre back for Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, forming an impressive partnership with Ugo Ehiogu at both Villa and Boro.

29. Richard Dunne (431 apps)

Clubs: Everton, Man City, Aston Villa & QPR

You know you’ve had a good season when you’re voted the club’s Player of the Year. Well, Dunne won that award a staggering four seasons in a row between 2005 and 2008 while at Manchester City. It shows what a good defender and player the Irishman was.

Still, he did have a few hot-headed moments, which led to a record eight red cards in the Premier League throughout his career. Had it not been for those suspensions at City and injuries while playing for Villa he’d have made even more appearances. 

28. Jussi Jaaskelainen (436 apps)

Clubs: Bolton & West Ham

Jussi Jaaskelainen was a pretty permanent fixture between the sticks for Bolton between 1998 and the time he left to join West Ham in 2012. He’d have made even more appearances, but three years of his Bolton career were spent in the second tier.

He was signed for the club for just £100,000 and went on to become Bolton’s joint-third highest appearance maker of all time.

27. Alan Shearer (441 apps)

Clubs: Blackburn & Newcastle

The Premier League’s highest ever goalscorer was actually banging them in for Southampton years before the new league was formed.

But when the Premier League started in 1992, Shearer joined Blackburn Rovers and spearheaded them to title success two seasons later. He joined Newcastle in 1996 and continued to score at an incredible rate.

Serious injuries at Blackburn and Newcastle make his numbers even more remarkable. 

Alan Shearer playing for Blackburn

26. Petr Cech (443 apps)

Clubs: Chelsea & Arsenal

Of Petr Cech’s 443 Premier League appearances, 202 of them ended with a clean sheet. In fact, he’s the only goalkeeper in Premier League history to have over 200 clean sheets to his name.

He’s also the only goalkeeper to have won Golden Glove awards with two different teams – Chelsea and Arsenal. With the Blues, Cech won four Premier League titles.

25. Kevin Davies (444)

Clubs: Southampton, Blackburn & Bolton

It was during Chesterfield’s 1997 FA Cup run that Kevin Davies rose to prominence – catching the imagination with his goals and skilful play.

Davies was promptly signed by Southampton for £750,000, where he scored nine goals before moving to Blackburn the following season for £7.5m.

He moved back to The Saints before signing for Bolton in 2003. At the Reebox Stadium he rediscovered his best form, winning the club’s Player of the Year in his first season. He played for the Trotters for nine seasons, eight of which were in the Premier League. 

24. John O’Shea (445 apps)

Clubs: Man Utd & Sunderland

Versatility was key for John O’Shea, who was able to fill in the gaps at Manchester United whenever he was called upon. During his time at Old Trafford he played in every position, including upfront and in goal.

It was at right-back where O’Shea seemed most comfortable, and the Irishman was an important part of United’s three Premier League triumphs in a row between 2007 and 2009. 

After leaving United, O’Shea played for Sunderland, making a further 189 Premier League appearances. 

23. Brad Friedel (450 apps)

Clubs: Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa & Tottenham

At 42 years and 176 days, Brad Friedel became the oldest player to represent Spurs in a competitive match when he played against Newcastle in 2013.

During his long career, which started in 1995, the big American played for Liverpool, Aston Villa, Blackburn and Spurs, finishing up with 450 appearances and an impressive 132 clean sheets.

He also played a record 310 consecutive Premier League matches between 2004 and 2012 – smashing the previously held of 166 games in a row. 

22. Shay Given (451 apps)

Clubs: Blackburn, Newcastle, Man City, Aston Villa & Stoke

Shay Given was part of the Blackburn Rovers squad that won the Premier League title in 1994/95, but didn’t make any Premier League appearances that season, and only two during his time at the club.

Still, Rovers’ manager Kenny Dalglish saw enough during loan spells at Swindon and Sunderland to sign him up when he became manager of Newcastle United in 1997.

It was here that Given made over 350 appearances across 12 seasons before moving to Manchester City in 2008, where he made another 50. He also had spells at Aston Villa and Stoke. 

21. Aaron Hughes (455 apps)

Clubs: Newcastle, Aston Villa & Fulham

Helping Shay Given keep the ball out of the net for much of his time at Newcastle was centre-back Aaron Hughes.

Given’s fellow Irishman played over 200 times in the Premier League for the club he rose through the ranks at.

In 2005, he moved to Aston Villa and played 54 times in the Premier League over two seasons. A move to Fulham followed, where the defender spent seven seasons in the Premier League, playing in just shy of 200 matches. 

20. Peter Crouch (468 apps)

Clubs: Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Tottenham, Stoke & Burnley

Crouchy was part of Spurs’ youth setup, but after a number of loans and spells at QPR and Portsmouth, he arrived in the Premier League with Aston Villa.

He failed to force his way into the team on a regular basis at Villa Park and transferred to Southampton, where he excelled under Harry Redknapp. But relegation meant The Saints decided to cash in and sell crouch to Liverpool in 2005.

It was a slow start at Anfield, with Crouch going 19 matches without a goal before really making his mark and scoring on a regular basis. He re-joined Pompey and Redknapp in 2008, striking up a deadly partnership with Jermain Defoe, before moving to Spurs in 2009.

Reunited with Redknapp (and Defoe) once again, Crouch helped the club reach the Champions League for the first time. He joined Stoke in 2011 where he played 202 Premier League games before finishing his career at Burnley.

Peter Crouch for Stoke doing the robot

19. Sylvain Distin (469 apps)

Clubs: Newcastle, Man City, Portsmouth, Everton & Bournemouth

When PSG loaned Sylvain Distin to Newcastle United in 2001, he couldn’t have known that the Premier League would be his home for the next 16 seasons.

During that time, the Frenchman solidified himself as an integral part of the defence at Manchester City, Portsmouth and Everton, rounding his career off with a dozen games for Bournemouth in the 2015/16 season. 

18. Michael Carrick (481 apps)

Clubs: West Ham, Tottenham & Man Utd

Big things were expected from Michael Carrick as he rose through West Ham’s academy and into the first team, where he won the club’s Young Player of the Year award two seasons in a row.

Unfortunately, relegation derailed things and when The Hammers failed to return to the Premier League at the first attempt, Carrick had to move. Spurs came in and he impressed in the centre of Tottenham’s midfield over two seasons under Martin Jol.

Manchester United paid a transfer fee worth up to £19m for his services in 2006 and at Old Trafford, Carrick played 316 times in the Premier League, winning five titles.

17. Wayne Rooney (491 apps)

Clubs: Everton & Man Utd

A star was born from the moment Rooney curled home an injury-time winner against Arsenal at Goodison Park in 2002. The boy from Croxteth had come through the Everton academy and announced himself to the world in spectacular fashion – and all before his 17th birthday.

The talent was undeniable and Sir Alex Ferguson knew what he could bring to Manchester United then and in the future. Rooney joined the Reds Devils in 2004 and stayed at the club for 13 seasons, winning five Premier League titles and becoming United’s all time top scorer with 253 strikes.

A final season at Everton in 2017/18 closed the circle and Rooney’s career playing top-flight English football. 

16. John Terry (492 apps)

Clubs: Chelsea

Having made his Premier League debut shortly after his 18th birthday in 1998, John Terry went on to star in Chelsea’s most successful sides.

He welcomed in the Roman Abramovic era and when Jose Mourinho arrived in 2004, Terry captained the club to back-to-back titles. Like Mourinho, his legendary status at the club was secured.

More was to come too, with three more Premier League titles during his career, in which no other defender kept more clean sheets. 

15. Jermain Defoe (496 apps)

Clubs: West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Sunderland & Bournemouth

A product of West Ham’s academy, Jermain Defoe got his first-team chance in 2000, scoring on his debut. But he really turned heads while on loan at Bournemouth – scoring in a record ten consecutive matches.

On his return to West Ham he scored regularly, but with the Hammers relegated and playing in the First Division, Defoe moved to Spurs.

The sharp-shooting striker was a fans’ favourite at White Hart Lane, scoring regularly before facing increased competition for a starting place. He returned to the club after a season at Portsmouth where he struck up a successful partnership with Peter Crouch. 

After a season in Major League Soccer, Defoe joined Sunderland, where he scored 15 goals two seasons in a row to steer the club away from relegation. A short spell at Bournemouth followed before Defoe played north of the border. 

Jermain Defoe celebrating for Spurs

14. Paul Scholes (499 apps)

Clubs: Man Utd

As part of the class of ’92, Paul Scholes arrived on the scene alongside other Manchester United youngsters David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, and the Neville brothers.

However, Scholes didn’t make his first-team debut until the 1994/95 season, scoring on both his cup and league bows. Scholes played upfront before moving into a central midfield role, where he was still able to contribute with goals and assists.

The pass master spent his entire career at Manchester United, winning an incredible 11 Premier League titles. He’s regarded as one of the finest midfielders of all time, with legends such as Zinedine Zidane, Xavi and Andrea Pirlo all signing his praises and singling him out as one the best ever. 

13. Sol Campbell (503 apps)

Clubs: Tottenham, Arsenal, Portsmouth & Newcastle

His controversial move from Spurs to Arsenal in 2001 is probably what Sol Campbell will be most remembered for, but his 135 Premier League appearances for The Gunners proved to be far more fruitful than his 255 for Tottenham.

During his time playing for Arsene Wenger, Campbell won two Premier League titles and was part of The Invincibles.

In 2006, he joined Portsmouth where he captained the club to an FA Cup success before a brief return Arsenal and a short spell at Newcastle. 

12. Rio Ferdinand (504 apps)

Clubs: West Ham, Leeds, Man Utd & QPR

Ferdinand was already attracting lots of attention from other clubs during his early years at West Ham. United were interested in the young centre-back, but he ultimately moved to Leeds for a British-record £18m in 2000.

He did eventually join United two years later though, for another record transfer fee of £30m. At Old Trafford he continued to show why he's considered one of the best defenders in Premier League history, mixing pace and assurance with technical ability on the ball. He won six Premier League titles with United before closing out his career with a season at QPR. 

12. Steven Gerrard (504 apps)

Clubs: Liverpool

Over 17 seasons, Steven Gerrard became a Liverpool legend, captaining the club to domestic cup and European glory. However, his burning ambition to help Liverpool lift a league title was never realised.

Having come through the Reds' ranks, Gerrard immediately won the hearts of the Anfield faithful, cementing his place with his passion, tenacity, drive and ability to smash in important goals when they mattered most.

He played over 500 Premier League games for his boyhood club from 1998 to 2015. During that time, he turned down offers to play elsewhere – only moving to Major League Soccer in the US at the end of his career. 

10. Phil Neville (505 apps)

Clubs: Man Utd & Everton

In the Premier League, Phil Neville played 263 times for Manchester United and 242 times for Everton. It was at United where he broke through and found most success, usually playing alongside his brother, Gary, in defence.

At first, the younger Neville brother found it hard to breakthrough with Denis Irwin occupying the left-back slot, but his versatility ensured he got a chance in the team before making the left-back spot his own.

He won six Premier League titles at United before making the move to Goodison Park where spent eight seasons, captaining the club from his second campaign until his retirement in 2013.  

9. Jamie Carragher (508 apps)

Clubs: Liverpool

Like Steven Gerrard, Carragher spent 17 seasons at Liverpool, breaking through at a similar time as his Scouse counterpart.

Under Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier, he played most games as a right-back, but was preferred at centre-back by Rafa Benitez.

'Carra' spent his entire career at Liverpool, making 508 Premier League appearances, with 195 of those resulting in a clean sheet. 

8. Mark Schwarzer (514 apps)

Clubs: Middlesbrough, Fulham, Chelsea & Leicester

Of Mark Schwarzer’s 514 Premier League appearance, 151 of them ended in clean sheets, which is the third-highest of any goalkeeper in Premier League history.

The Aussie stopper made most of his Premier League appearances for two clubs – Middlesbrough and Fulham.

He also played a handful of games for Chelsea and Leicester, where he set a peculiar milestone: he became the first player to win back-to-back Premier League titles with different clubs - despite not playing a league game for either side during either triumph. 

7. Emile Heskey (516 apps)

Clubs: Leicester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Wigan & Aston Villa

Emile Heskey made his Premier League debut in 1995 at just 17 years of age, but spent the following season in the First Division as Leicester were relegated. That gave him his opportunity, and when the Foxes returned to the Premier League in 1996, Heskey was a regular. His power and unselfish play, secured him a move to Liverpool in 2000.

Heskey was never a prolific goalscorer, but formed good partnerships up front. He worked well with Tony Cottee at Leicester and Michael Owen at Liverpool, helping both clubs win domestic cups.

He played in the Premier League 124 times for Leicester and 150 times for Liverpool, before making further appearances for Birmingham City (68), Wigan Athletic (82) and Aston Villa (92).

Heskey and Gerrard for Liverpool

6. Gary Speed (535 apps)

Clubs: Leeds, Everton, Newcastle & Bolton

Gary Speed played 248 league games for Leeds, the team he started with as a boy. 143 of those matches were in the Premier League. The season before the new league formed, Leeds won the First Division title and Speed was named their best player by manager Howard Wilkinson.

In 1996, Speed joined the club he supported as a child, Everton. But he only stayed at the Toffees for two seasons before transferring to Newcastle in 1998, where he played 213 Premier League matches.

He joined Bolton in 2004, where he stayed for four seasons making 121appearances. 

5. David James (572 apps)

Clubs: Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Man City & Portsmouth

David James made his Liverpool debut (after signing from Watford) on the first day of the very first Premier League season in 1992. He went on to play in England’s top flight for 18 seasons, with just one season in the Championship with West Ham.

He played 214 times for Liverpool before moving to Aston Villa in 1999 and playing 67 Premier League matches. James joined West Ham but after getting relegated only spent one season in the Championship before moving to Manchester City.

While at City, James even played some minutes up front, as manager Stuart Pearce had a last throw at the dice to try and qualify for the UEFA Cup. It very nearly paid off. A final Premier League move saw James play for Portsmouth and win the FA Cup in 2008. 

4. James Milner (589 apps)

Clubs: Leeds, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Man City & Liverpool

At 16 years and 309 days, James Milner became the second-youngest player to feature in the Premier League. And 47 days later he became the youngest player to score in the Premier League.

The rising Leeds star looked to have a promising future, but after his boyhood club were relegated they were forced to sell, with Milner joining Newcastle in 2004. His time at St James' Park was up and down, with different managers coming and going. During his spell on Tyneside, he joined Aston Villa on loan and returned there permanently in 2008.

In 2010, he joined Manchester City where he played 147 Premier League matches, winning two titles. He joined Liverpool in 2015, winning a Champions League title in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020. 

3. Frank Lampard (609 apps)

Clubs: West Ham, Chelsea & Man City

Despite having a West Ham legend for a father, Frank Lampard’s start to life at Upton Park wasn’t easy. He was jeered by some Hammers fans and famously had manager Harry Redknapp defend him at a fans forum. With Redknapp, his uncle, and his dad leaving the club in 2001, Lampard signed for Chelsea.

Over 13 seasons at Stamford Bridge Lampard became a legend, winning back-to-back Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho, and another title under Carlo Ancelotti. He also won a Champions League medal and set some incredible goalscoring numbers for a midfielder – 147 goals in 429 Premier League appearances.

Lampard spent his final Premier League season at Manchester City, playing 32 times.

2. Ryan Giggs (632 apps)

Clubs: Man Utd

Despite making his league debut in 1991 and becoming a regular winger for United in 1992, Giggs captained the ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ team to glory in the ’92 FA Youth Cup. Many of those players would go on to help United dominate English football in the 90s.

Led by the exciting Giggs and the arrival of Eric Cantona, the inaugural Premier League season saw United crowned as champions for the first time – but there’d be plenty more to come.

Over 22 Premier League seasons, spanning from 1992 to 2014, Giggs won an astonishing 13 Premier League titles and left an indelible mark on the football landscape. 

gareth barry for aston villa

1. Gareth Barry (653 apps)

Clubs: Aston Villa, Man City, Everton & West Brom

Not many players have to think about being offered a testimonial match age of 26, but in 2007 Barry had been at Aston Villa for 10 years having joined the club as a trainee from Brighton.

In 2008, the defensive midfielder became the longest serving player at the club and was wearing the armband. By the time he left the club in 2009, he’d made 365 Premier League appearances.

Barry joined Manchester City in 2009 and quickly won silverware, picking up the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League the following season. He made 132 Premier League appearances for City before joining Everton on loan in 2013 and then making the move permanent.

He played 131 times for the Toffees in the Premier League taking his total to over 600. He made a final Premier League swan song for West Brom, finishing his Premier League career with an incredible 653 appearances.