If you’d suggested, back when Jürgen Klopp first signed on at Anfield in 2015, that in three years a then 32-year-old James Milner would be one of the first names on the teamsheet for the manager, most would have been a little skeptical.
They might have wondered if, perhaps, Klopp’s tenure hadn’t gone to plan. Yet here we are, three years on, top of the league and into the Champions League knockout rounds for the second year in a row. And Milner is one of the first names on the teamsheet.
It would probably be foolish to assume it won’t still be the case in another three, as unlikely as it might seem. Because James Milner is a machine. Like a Terminator. Just better at social media. At least according to fellow midfielder Gini Wijnaldum.
“It’s incredible,” was Wijnaldum’s answer when asked this week about Milner having now appeared in 500 Premier League games—with a 501st likely on Sunday against Manchester United. “Also that he is still so fit. He’s a machine.
“We always see him in the gym and sometimes I’ll say: ‘James, you might take a little bit of rest!’ But he is always busy to keep his body as fit as possible so for me it’s not a surprise that he’s made so many appearances.”
What’s more incredible is that he’s racked up that many appearances while playing almost every position on the pitch. In fact, Wijnaldum notes that the only place he hasn’t played is in goal—though there’s still time for that to happen.
Even if he doesn’t pop up in net for the Reds sooner or later, with Liverpool’s injury issues you wouldn’t want to bet against him making a start or three at fullback or even centre half as Liverpool play their way through the crowded holiday fixture list.
“Against Bournemouth he played as a right defender so I told him he’d played in every position,” Wijaldum added. “He said, ‘Except in goal, so if we’ve used three substitutes and the goalkeeper gets a red card, it’s me!’”