By Chris Wright
With the PFA Player of the Year shortlist having a decidedly youthful bent to it, we thought we’d doff our proverbial caps to the golden oldies (we’re talking 33-years-old and up) who have impressed us this season.
Let’s hear it for the biddies!
10. Julian Speroni, Crystal Palace (35): With a decade of dedicated service clocked up, Speroni is already well established as a Palace club legend – being, as he is, fifth (and quickly gaining ground on fourth) on the Eagles’ all-time appearance list.
The Argentinian ‘keeper has enjoyed yet another dependable season betwixt the sticks at Selhurst Park, with a well-deserved testimonial coming up at the end of May.
9. Charlie Adam, Stoke (46?): After spending the last few years soaked in supermarket own-brand whisky and bareknuckle fighting in pub car-parks, Adam has enjoyed something of a renaissance at The Britannia this season – chugging around with all the zeal and gusto of a man half his age.
8. Michael Duff, Burnley (37): Despite being the second oldest outfield player in the Premier League (26 days younger than Sylvain Distain), long-serving veteran Duff has proved a considerable presence in Burnley’s defence this season – hacking clearances away for fun, muscling strikers off the ball and getting his head on any-sodding-thing that moves. Y’know, all the grubby stuff.
Fun fact: The grizzled Northern Irish centre-back is the only man to appear in all eight top tiers of English football.
7. Steve Harper, Hull City (40): Having made his debut shortly after the end of the Second World War, you could forgive Harper for struggling to keep up these days – though the ancient Geordie stopper proved to be a more-than-able deputy for Allan McGregor after the Scot did his shoulder in at the tail end of 2014.
6. Bobby Zamora, QPR (34): Given a bit of a raw deal in his ‘Row Z’ days, Zamora has matured from a perennial punchline into an intelligent target man/link-up striker over the course of the latter half of his career.
Incredibly adept at pulling humped clearances out of the sky under duress, Zamora’s deft touches and knock-ons have helped aid and abet Charlie Austin’s more instinctive, predatory stylings all season long. Big man/Little man. It works.
And don’t even get us started on that goal against West Brom last month. Woof.
5. Peter Crouch, Stoke City (34): Seems strange to think of Crouch as an oldie, though thankfully the gradual transition into creaky middle age hasn’t really affected a man whose primary talent is being built like a pole ladder.
That said, Crouch has scored nine goals in all competitions and also managed to equal Alan Shearer’s Premier League record for headed goals (46) this season, which is nothing to be sniffed at.
4. Frank Lampard, Man City (36): While his influence has noticeably waned as the season has rolled on, Lampard hit the ground running (well, moseying) at City with a flurry of early goals – getting things properly up and running with a perversely satisfying moment of almost Fredo-like betrayal on his first outing against Chelsea back in September.
3. Michael Carrick, Man Utd (33): You know the drill: For every fan who fawns over Carrick as an under-appreciated gilded lily of a possession retainer, there’s another who refuses to believe he’s anything more than an overrated charlatan who’s somehow pulled the wool over everybody’s eyes by using smoke, mirrors and meekly-tended pass completion rates.
The truth is somewhere in the middle, slightly to the left of the divide. He’ll definitely need replacing sooner rather than later, but Manchester United’s midfield is undoubtedly a calmer place to be with Carrick around.
2. Esteban Cambiasso, Leicester City (34): In short, Cambiasso has generally been fantastic for Leicester this year.
With many assuming he was merely signing for the Foxes as a kind of semi-retired football tourist, the Argentinian scrapper has spent the season romping around like a much younger man, getting stuck in and looking like he genuinely cares about his new team’s fate. It’s a simple thing, but it goes a long way toward winning football fans’ affections.
Forgive us for being a little melodramatic here, but we honestly believe Leicester would have sunk without a trace long ago without Cambiasso’s infectious optimism and influence at the heart of the team.
1. John Terry, Chelsea (34): Unfashionable and distinctly old wave he may be, but Terry is still one of the best centre-backs in world football by virtue of his almost flawless game-reading, timing and physicality.
Say what you want about the man but the fact remains: He is immensely good at what he does for a living.
Any more Premier League old codgers you feel warrant a mention? Give us a nudge in the comments below…