James Milner is “like Zlatan Ibrahimovic”, claims Micah Richards, with a former team-mate of the versatile Liverpool star seeing no reason why he cannot play Premier League football into his 40s.
The likes of Teddy Sheringham and Ryan Giggs have been evergreen performers in the past, and it could be that Milner stands alongside them at some stage in the future.
He is 35 years of age at present, but is showing no sign of slowing down and remains one of the most professional talents in the English top flight.
Having looked after himself across a productive career to date – one that has delivered title triumphs at Manchester City and Liverpool – there is every reason to believe that Milner can remain at the top for some time yet.
Richards expects that to be the case, with the ex-Blues defender telling BBC Sport: “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.
“LikeZlatan Ibrahimovic,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.”
Richards added: “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.”
Milner has always been something of an unsung hero for the many clubs he has represented, but Richards says ability to sail under the radar should take nothing away from the talent possessed by a man with nine major trophies and 61 England caps to his name.
“Milner’s not a genius on the ball like David Silva – but who is?” added Richards.
“He won’t beat two men and put it in the top corner either. But he is a player who is good at everything rather than brilliant at one thing – he can pick a pass, tackle and shoot with either foot.
Source : goal.com