In the summer of 2023, James Milner left the Reds for sunnier climes. Well, he moved down south at any rate, swapping Formby for Brighton Beach and moving to the Seagulls. The former Leeds, Villa, City and Newcastle man, capped 61 times by England, is 37 now but will hope to make history with Brighton.
His first appearance for his new club on the opening weekend of the 2023/24 campaign took him to 620 Premier League appearances. That leaves him third on the all-time list, 32 behind top dog, Gareth Barry. Milner has played almost 900 professional games in total, with 332 coming for the Reds and 230 of those being in the Premier League. Milner was a fine servant for Liverpool but whilst he may well become the leading PL appearance maker this season, or perhaps the next, he falls some way shy of making any such similar list of Liverpool players. Here are the five players to have made the most appearances for the club.
1) Ian Callaghan, 857 Appearances
Ian Callaghan was a local lad, born in Toxteth, Liverpool, in 1942, who remains the record appearance-maker for the Reds. The midfielder was voted the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in 1974 and he won various other personal honours too. He was also a World Cup winner, although he only received his medal from 1966 in 2009 following a campaign to grant them to players who didn’t appear in the final itself. He only played four times in total for his country, including one match in the group phase in 1966.
But it was with Liverpool where he was virtually an ever-present. He slowly broke into the team in 1959/60 but from 1961/62 until leaving to play in America in 1978, he made at least 23 appearances for Liverpool every season. He turned out over 40 times for the club in 11 of those campaigns and his presence in the middle of the park was key in the success Liverpool enjoyed in the 1960s and 1970s. Callaghan won five First Division titles, two FA Cups, two European Cups and two UEFA Cups.
2) Jamie Carragher, 737 Appearances
Jamie Carragher is a name that will be more familiar to younger fans, though in terms of appearances for Liverpool he is a distant second to Callaghan. “Carra” is the only other person to make over 700 starts for the club though and whilst he didn’t enjoy the same success as his fellow Scouser (Carragher is from the Bootle area of the city), he still won pretty much everything apart from the league title.
Carragher grew up as an Evertonian but joined Liverpool at around the age of 10. He would, by all accounts, turn up to training in his Everton kit, with striker Graeme Sharp his hero at the time. Although he began playing up front, and then in midfield, and also played at right back from time to time, he is known as a strong, no-nonsense centre back. He earned 38 England caps between 1999 and 2010 and would have won more had he not been competing against the likes of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. Now a pundit, Carragher is a true Liverpool legend, much loved by the fans despite his roots as a Toffee.
3) Steven Gerrard, 710 Appearances
The third Scouser on our list and perhaps the club’s greatest ever player, certainly to those born too late to enjoy the golden era of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Gerrard also makes the list of Liverpool’s top five goalscorers too. At least until Mo Salah gets one more goal. But Gerrard was not so much a great goalscorer, but rather a scorer of great goals. He led from the front and so many of his strikes for the club he loves were crucial. He scored wonder goals when his team needed him the most, such as in the FA Cup final in 2006 against West Ham.
Gerrard was a real servant and played most of his career alongside Carragher, the two coming to represent the club during the first decade of the 21st century. Gerrard was supremely talented and just as passionate and could do just about anything on the pitch. 114 caps for England (including 21 goals) show just how good he was and he was twice England Player of the Year – an accolade he picked up four times for his club.
Tied 4th) Ray Clemence, 665 Appearances
Perhaps surprisingly there is only one goalkeeper in our top five but Ray Clemence is a worthy inclusion, playing for the Reds from 1967 to 1981. Incredibly he also made well over 250 appearances for Spurs in a lengthy career that began at Scunthorpe and lasted more than two decades. The Skegness-born stopper played 61 times for England but would have played many more had he not spent some time almost sharing the role for Peter Shilton, before being usurped by the great goalie. Clemence died in 2020, aged 72, but will live forever in the memories of the fans who saw him help Liverpool to so many trophies.
Tied 4th) Emlyn Hughes, 665 Appearances
Emlyn Hughes made exactly the same number of Liverpool appearances as the man he played in front of for 12 years. Hughes’ time with the Reds was spent almost exclusively with Clemence behind him, the tough defender playing for Liverpool from 1967 to 1979. Though affable and avuncular in his later years as a captain on Question of Sport, Hughes, who captained Liverpool to so many trophies, was tough and forceful on the pitch. He was born in Barrow in 1947 and sadly died at the age of just 57, in 2004.
Notable Mentions: The Rest of the Top 10
Not quite making the top five but filling out the top 10 we have the following club legends. All of these players appeared for the Reds more than 600 times and all of them helped the club win any number of trophies.
- 6) Ian Rush, 660 Appearances
- 7) Phil Neal, 650 Appearances
- 8) Tommy Smith, 638 Appearances
- 9) Bruce Grobbelaar, 628 Appearances
- 10) Alan Hansen, 620 Appearances