James Milner likened to Zlatan Ibrahimović

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James Milner of Liverpool celebrates with the Champions League Trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 01, 2019 in Madrid, Spain
Photo: Getty Images

Micah Richards believes that former Manchester City teammate James Milner can emulate the longevity of Zlatan Ibrahimović and keep playing Premier League football into his 40s.

At 35, Milner is one of the most consistent performers in the Liverpool squad and there are no signs of him slowing up.

Since making his senior debut for Leeds United in 2002/03, the former England international has made over 550 Premier League appearances.

Meanwhile on the continent, Ibrahimović continues to plunder goals for AC Milan aged 39.

The likes of Teddy Sheringham and Ryan Giggs have been evergreen performers in the past, and Richards reckons Milner could join that illustrious company in the future.

Writing in his BBC Sport column, Richards said:

Whenever I'm asked about the level of professionalism every player should aspire to, I use him as the example. He doesn't drink alcohol and he is probably fitter now than I was in my prime.

There's no sign of him stopping, either. He left City for Liverpool in 2015 for more game time, and he still has that hunger.

Like Zlatan Ibrahimović, he is one of those players who can just keep on going. I honestly think Milner could still be playing in the Premier League aged 40, if he wants to.

Milner has always been something of an unsung hero for the many clubs he has represented.

His mindset is astonishing; he never has a day off. Out of everything I've said, it is that character and experience that will really make the difference for Liverpool with what they are going through now.

We won the Premier League together at City in 2012 but there were times that season when things were not going well. He was one of the people who kept everyone going.

He wouldn't let us get super-excited when we were on a winning run, but he also wouldn't let us get too low when we were losing games and losing ground in what was a very tight title race.

It was the way he did it too - not by shouting and bawling but by giving you proper information about what you were doing right or wrong.

As well as what he says, he leads by example in every way. I know he's had a few little niggling injuries recently, but he's still as fit as ever. And that is not down to luck - it is because of hard work and his total dedication to his career since he made his Premier League debut for Leeds in 2002, aged 16.

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