Foreign Players with Most Appearances in the Premier League
And we just aim to introduce some of the greatest foreign players in the Premier League who have also had the most appearances in the major English league. Most of’em are European, but that’s not a rule for all of them.
In fact, we have here players from United States, Trinidad and Tobago, and Australia who are among the foreign players with the most appearances in the Premier League.
Most Premier League Appearances by Foreign Players
The list of the most Premier League appearances by foreign players starts with the Welsh star, Ryan Giggs. If you are not so familiar with Giggs, you might have thought to yourself that he’s from England.
But, that’s not true! He’s from Wales, and not only he has had the most Premier League appearances among foreign players but also he’s considered as one of the greatest foreign players in the Premier League ever.
Ryan Giggs (632)
Greatest foreign player in the Premier League ever who has gone retired since 2014; and the interesting thing about Giggs is that he only served one club, namely Manchester United, throughout his career, making 632 appearances for them in 24 years.
The 46-year-old Welsh midfielder is the only player to have played in each of the first 22 seasons of Premier League and have scored in each of the first 21 seasons of the major English league. And with Manchester United, he has won more than 10 Premier League titles.
Gary Speed (535)
The second foreign player with the most number of Premier League appearances - actually 535, Gary Speed was also a midfielder from Wales. We say “was” because the Welsh footballer is unfortunately dead. You can find more information on his death in our post “Famous dead football players, how and why did they pass?”
Gary Speed had the record of most Premier League appearances - by a foreign or non-foreign player - until 1992 that his record was broken by David James with 572 appearances. However, in terms of the most Premier League appearances by a foreign player he still ranks second.
Mark Schwarzer (514)
A goalkeeper from Australia among the foreign players with the most number of appearances in EPL history, Mark Schwarzer has actually made 514 appearances in the Premier League from 1997 to 2015, and is the only foreign goalkeeper who has made more than 500 appearances in the major English league.
Schwarzer is also the first foreign player to have made more than 500 appearances in the Premier League. Behind him is Sylvain Distin of France with 469 appearances. The 47-year-old retired Australian goalkeeper is also a member of Australian Order for his services to football.
Sylvain Distin (469)
The only French footballer who has made more than 450 appearances in the Premier League, Sylvain Distin has actually played three fourth of his footballing career in the Premier League (between 2002 and 2016) and for the clubs like Manchester City and Everton.
The 42-year-old retired French footballer was actually a defender and a tall one in fact - he is 193 cm. He also served top French clubs, PSG and Tours, during his career. In terms of the most Premier League appearances made by a foreign defender, Sylvain Distin ranks first.
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Aaron Hughes (455)
The only and first Irish footballer to have made the most Premier League appearances to this date with 455 appearances in the major English league between 1998 and 2013. Hughes is also the only Irish defender who has made more than 450 appearances in the Premier League.
Hughes made most of his career appearances in the Premier League and for only 3 clubs: Newcastle United, Aston Villa, and Fulham. And the interesting fact about the 40-year-old retired Irish defender is that he was never sent off in his 455 Premier League appearances. A disciplined defender? Maybe!
Shay Given (451)
Another goalkeeper on the list of foreign players with most Premier League appearances, Shay Given made 451 Premier League appearances between 1996 and 2016 and for clubs such as Newcastle United, Manchester City and Aston Villa. And from all his 451 appearances, Given made 354 only for Newcastle United. So he’d better be best known as a Newcastle United player.
Given was also named Newcastle United Player of the Year in 2005-06 and the Premier League Team of the Year in 2001-02 and 2005-06 seasons. He’s the only Irish goalkeeper to have made more than 450 Premier League appearances to this date.
Brad Friedel (450)
Yet another goalkeeper among the foreign players with most Premier League appearances! And in fact, the only American footballer to have made more than 400 Premier League appearances. Brad Friedel has actually played in the Premier League from 1998 to 2013 and for clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, and Aston Villa.
However, Friedel has made the most number of appearances (290) for Blackburn Rovers from 2000 to 2008 - the club competed in the Premier League in that period - and even scored a goal for them from a corner kick.
By doing so, the 49-year-old retired American goalkeeper became the second goalkeeper in the Premier League history after Peter Schmeichel to have scored (excluding keepers who have scored own goals).
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John O'Shea (445)
Not more than a year since he has retired, John O'Shea is a retired Irish defender and midfielder who has made the most number of Premier League appearances an Irish defender has ever made after his Irish counterpart, Aaron Hughes. He has actually appeared 445 times for Premier League clubs 256 of which have been for Manchester United.
O'Shea has won almost all his club trophies and titles with Manchester United including five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two Football League Cups, four FA Community Shield trophies, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup.
Petr Cech (443)
The only Czech footballer who has made more than 400 Premier League appearances, Petr Cech has served two Premier League clubs, namely Chelsea and Arsenal, for the majority of his footballing career, in fact three fourth of it. And between Arsenal and Chelsea, he has made three times more appearances for Chelsea - actually 333 appearances at league level.
So, Cech is more a Chelsea player than an Arsenal one. He also holds the record of most Clean Sheets earned at the Premier League club with 228 clean sheets between 2004 and 2015.
Jussi Jääskeläinen (436)
It seems goalkeepers and defenders are populating the list of foreign players with most Premier League appearances! And here comes a goalkeeper from Finland, Jussi Jääskeläinen! He’s actually the only Finnish footballer with more than 400 Premier League appearances most of which he made for Bolton Wonderers.
And the interesting fact about the 40-year-old retired Finnish goalkeeper is that he only won one title throughout his footballing career and that was English League One title in 2015-16 season with Wigan Athletic.
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Richard Dunne (431)
A defender and an Irish one who served Premier League clubs for the majority of his footballing career (almost 90%), Richard Dunne is best known for being a Manchester City player since he served the Premier League club between two to three times more than the other clubs he played for during his career.
From among 431 Premier League appearances Dunne has made 253 have been for Manchester City - another proof that he’s best known as a Man City player!, and that means more than half of Dunne’s Premier League appearances have been made for Man City.
The 40-year-old retired Irish defender was also named Manchester City Player of the Year for 4 consecutive years from 2005 to 2008.
Tim Howard (399)
Another American goalkeeper to populate the list of foreign players with the most number of appearances in the Premier League, Tim Howard has made all his Premier League appearances for only two clubs: Everton and Manchester United. And between these two clubs, he has served the former almost six times more than the latter.
In numbers, that means Howard has made 329 appearances for Everton while he has only appeared 45 times for United. Described as an “American soccer hero” by the American newspaper, Chicago Tribune, Howard was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2001 and U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 2008 and 2014.
Damien Duff (392)
An Irish footballer but this time a midfielder on the list of foreign players with most Premier League appearances, Damien Duff has played for the Premier League clubs, Chelsea and Newcastle United, and Fulham and Blackburn Rovers when they were in the Premier League during his career.
And despite making less appearances for Chelsea compared to those of Fulham and Blackburn Rovers, Duff has won more trophies and titles with Chelsea than any other team. These include two Premier League titles, one Football League cup, and one FA Community Shield trophy.
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George Boateng (384)
The only Dutch footballer among the foreign players with most Premier League appearances who has made more than 350 appearances in the major English league; Boateng was actually a Dutch midfielder with Ghanaian origin who played most of his career for English clubs both in the Premier League or lower tiers.
However, Boateng made most of his Premier League appearances for only two clubs: Aston Villa, and Middlesbrough - in fact when they competed in the Premier League. And again between these two clubs, the 44-year-old retired Dutch midfielder made twice as much appearances for Middlesbrough.
Stephen Carr (377)
Yet another Irish footballer on the list of foreign players with most Premier League appearances! Stephen Carr played almost two third of his career for only two Premier League clubs: Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United. And again between these two clubs, he made three times more appearances for Tottenham - actually 226.
Carr was also named Tottenham Hotspur Members Club Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000. He is one of those defenders who have played in all defensive positions, namely right back, center back and left back, during their careers, although he was actually a right back.
Dwight Yorke (375)
And here comes the only Tobagonian footballer in the world who has made more than 350 Premier League appearances! Dwight Eversley Yorke, simply known as Dwight Yorke, is a Tobagonian forward - in fact the first forward on our list of foreign players with most Premier League appearances - who has played almost half of his career for only two Premier League clubs: Aston Villa and Manchester United.
And he scored 121 goals for the two above-mentioned clubs plus two other for Birmingham City in 2004-05 season - when the club competed in the Premier League - to reach a record of 123 Premier League goals that he held until 2017 when his record was broken by Sergio Aguero of Manchester City with 143 goals in total until the end of 2017-18 season’s Premier League.
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Roy Keane (366)
Don’t you think that Irish footballers are also on a rise on this list of foreign players with most Premier League appearances?! Here comes another Irish footballer - in fact midfielder - who has made more than 350 Premier League appearances during his footballing career: Roy Keane. His complete name is Roy Maurice Keane and he has made 326 appearances alone for Manchester United.
If you add another 40 appearances he made for Nottingham Forest when the club competed in the Premier League to the above number, you reach 366, or the number of Premier League appearances Keane made during his career.
And the 48-year-old retired Irish midfielder is not only one of the highly decorated Irish footballers but has also won seven Premier League titles with Man Utd, not to mention a bunch of other trophies and titles he won during his career.
Nicolas Anelka (364)
We have already had a French defender (Sylvain Distin) on the list of foreign players with most Premier League appearances, but this one is a forward and being a French one means that he’s the only French forward to have made more than 350 Premier League appearances.
Anelka served more than ten European top clubs during his career including Juventus, Real Madrid, and PSG, but it was Chelsea and Arsenal that he made the most number of appearances for.
He actually made 125 appearances for the former and 65 for the latter. And the rest of his Premier League appearances, the 41-year-old retired French forward made for clubs like Manchester City, Liverpool, and a couple of other clubs that competed in the Premier League in his time.
Thomas Sørensen (364)
The only Danish goalkeeper to have made more than 350 Premier League appearances to this date, Thomas Sørensen spent a little bit more than a half of his career in the Premier league (12 years) during which he played for only two clubs: Aston Villa and Stoke City - actually when the latter competed in the Premier League between 2008 and 2018.
And Sørensen is the eighth most capped Danish footballer to this date with 101 appearances he made for the Danish national team between 1999 and 2012. He’s actually the successor to the legendary Danish goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, who retired in 2001.
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Rory Delap (359)
An Irish footballer who played all his career for English clubs in different tiers of English football league system, Rory Delap was actually a midfielder known for his long throw-in ability.
They say that ability of his helped Stoke City promote to the Premier League, and it was Stoke City that he served the most during his career with 178 appearances that he made for them.
Delap has actually served two clubs more than any other club during his career: Southampton with 132 appearances and Stoke City 178 appearances, as already mentioned. The 44-year-old retired Irish midfielder was a javelin thrower as a youngster and he also took part in Olympic Games. Maybe that’s why he was a long thrower?
Kolo Touré (353)
Among the best defenders ever in the Premier League history, Kolo Touré is the only Ivorian footballer who has had more than 350 Premier League appearances to this date.
He has served Premier League clubs for the majority of his footballing career, namely 14 years from 2002 to 2016, and from among these clubs, Arsenal almost three times more with 225 appearances.
Touré also served Manchester City and Liverpool during his career and Celtic one year before he retired. Besides winning a handful of trophies with Arsenal, the 39-year-old retired Ivorian defender won two Premier League titles with Arsenal and Manchester City, and one Scottish Premiership with Celtic.
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Cesc Fabregas (350)
In fact, Fabregas has made more appearances than the two other Spanish footballers mentioned above, however, with 311 appearances, David de Gea has the potential to surpass him since he’s in Man Utd’s first team and has still more than a few years in front of him.
Unlike all the other footballers already mentioned, Fabregas is not yet retired - he’s currently playing for the French club, Monaco. The 33-year-old Spanish midfielder has served two Premier League clubs for the majority of his footballing career, namely for 13 years. These two clubs are Arsenal and Chelsea with the former being served by Fabregas almost twice as much (8 years).
Robbie Keane (349)
The second forward on the list of foreign players with most Premier League appearances, Robbie Keane is actually a retired Irish footballer who served Tottenham Hotspur more than any other club during his footballing career, and also made most of his club appearances in the Premier League.
Keane is also one of the highly decorated Irish footballers with a number of honors in the bag including Tottenham Hotspur Player of the Year in three seasons, Premier League Player of the Month in three months and Celtic Player of the Year in one season. Despite this, the 40-year-old Irish forward has never won a league title.
Robbie Savage (346)
A retired Welsh footballer (Aged 45) who played all his career for English clubs in different tiers of English football league system, Robbie Savage is actually a product of Manchester United, but oddly enough, he has never appeared for the Premier League club despite being promoted to their senior team in 1993.
However, Savage has made most of his appearances in the Premier League rather than other tiers in the English football league system with Leicester City being the club most served by the retired Welsh midfielder during his footballing career - he actually appeared 173 times for the English club and even scored 8 goals for them.
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Darren Fletcher (341)
The only Scottish footballer to have made more than 340 Premier League appearances, Darren Fletcher spent all his footballing career, except for one season at the end of his career (2018-19), at the Premier League and served only one club (Manchester United) for the majority of this time, namely for 12 years between 2003 and 2015.
He actually made 223 appearances for the Premier League club and even scored 18 goals for them. The other Premier League club Fletcher has served is West Bromwich Albion for whom he made 91 appearances.
The 36-year-old retired Scottish midfielder has also won five Premier League titles with Manchester United, and was named West Bromwich Albion Player of the Year in 2015-16 season.
And the Rest of the List
Up to here, we have introduced you 24 foreign players with most Premier League appearances. However, the list continues and if you like to know which foreign players made more than 300 Premier League appearances, just see them on the list below.
- Steed Malbranque (France - 336)
- Kenny Cunningham (Ireland - 335)
- Hermann Hreiðarsson (Iceland - 332)
- Denis Irwin (Ireland - 328)
- Gary McAllister (Scotland - 325)
- Gary Kelly (Ireland - 325)
- Kevin Kilbane (Ireland - 325)
- Gaël Clichy (France - 325)
- Antonio Valencia (Ecuador - 325)
- Robert Huth (Germany - 322)
- William Gallas (France - 321)
- John Arne Riise (Norway - 321)
- Paul Telfer (Scotland - 319)
- Shane Long (Ireland - 319)
- Sami Hyypiä (Finland - 318)
- Dennis Bergkamp (The Netherlands - 315)
- Edwin van der Sar (The Netherlands - 313)
- James Morrison (Scotland - 311)
- David de Gea (Spain - 311)
- Peter Schmeichel (Denmark - 310)
- David Silva (Spain -308)
- Patrick Vieira (France - 307)
- Steven Davis (North Ireland - 306)
- Simon Davies (Wales - 303)
- Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina - 302)
- Nolberto Solano (Peru - 302)