On 20 January 2006, Arsenal celebrate the 10 year anniversary of one of their signings in 2006 – a certain 16-year-old named Theo Walcott from Southampton. The forward was a highly rated youngster with lightning quick pace both on and off the ball and Wenger was quick to bring him into the first team in the months to follow.
Since then, he has made 320 appearances for the north London side and scored 81 goals. Considering that he is still only 26, it comes as a surprise to learn that he is the longest-serving player in the current squad. No, it isn’t Tomas Rosicky who also joined in 2006. The 35-year-old Czech international joined only in the summer – five months after Walcott.
With that in mind, who is the longest serving player at each Premier League club? The list does throw up a few surprises.
The longest serving player currently plying his trade in the Premier League is none other than Chelsea skipper John Terry. The English centre-back joined the Blues’ academy at the age of 14, initially starting his career as a midfielder but moved to defence due to a shortage of centre-backs. He would rise through the ranks before making his senior debut in a League Cup match in 1998 and is close to making 700 appearances for the London club this season.
Tony Hibbert is probably the longest serving player when you look at the year he joined Everton’s academy. While Terry joined Chelsea from West Ham in 1995, Hibbert has been at the Toffees’ academy since 1991, joining the club when he was 10 years old.
He would make his senior debut a decade later after impressing with the youth team and has since gone on to make over 300 appearances – not as much as he would have liked but injuries kept threatening to derail his career. Now 34, this is probably his last contract – one that expires this summer – especially since he hasn’t played at all this season.
Steven Taylor is yet another defender who has been around for ages even though he is still just 29. But he has struggled for consistency due to recurring injuries and Newcastle have had to bear the brunt. Like Terry, he too joined the Magpies’ academy in 1995, but at the age of 9.
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is the club’s longest serving player even though he started his career at Everton. Having joined the Red Devils for a commanding fee of £25.6m aged only 18, Rooney would go on to become one of the Premier League’s most famous players. A five-time Premier League winner, Rooney now holds the record for the most Premier League goals scored by a player at a single club (176).
Other popular players include Lucas Leiva (Liverpool), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur) and Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City). The complete list of all 20 clubs is given below. It also comes as no surprise that the majority of the clubs (13) have an Englishman as the longest serving player.
|4||Crystal Palace||Julian Speroni||GK||2004||£700K||386||0|
|5||Manchester United||Wayne Rooney||FW||2004||£25.6m||506||242|
|6||West Ham||Mark Noble||CM||2004||Free||344||37|
|7||Aston Villa||Gabriel Agbonlahor||FW||2005||Free||363||84|
|9||Manchester City||Joe Hart||GK||2006||£630K||322||0|
|11||Leicester City||Andy King||CM||2007||Free||321||57|
|13||Stoke City||Ryan Shawcross||CB||2007||£1m||336||22|
|14||Tottenham Hotspur||Danny Rose||LB||2007||£700K||105||7|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||James Morrison||CM||2007||£1.5m||250||30|
|16||Swansea City||Angel Rangel||RB||2007||£420K||323||9|
|17||Norwich City||Wes Hoolahan||CM||2008||£263K||269||43|
Note: Only senior team apperances have been counted