James Milner is one of the most hardworking professionals in the modern game and is versatile to the point that if you had a team full of him you wouldn’t be doing so bad. Liverpool’s man of the match in their opening game of the season, a victory over West Ham United, shows why he is one of the Premier League’s most unsung heroes.
The Leeds born natural midfielder broke into his hometowns side at the age of 16 making his debut against West Ham on the 10th of November 2002. After successful periods at Newcastle and Aston Villa Manchester City came in and bought Milner for £26 Million and in his five years with the Citizens he won 5 trophies including two Premier League titles and a FA Cup.
However in 2015 he left for Liverpool on a free in order to get more game time. Early in his Liverpool career he broke the record for a player for the most matches scored in without losing (47). Last season he was instrumental in getting Liverpool to the Champions League final, making nine assists on the road to Kiev which was a new record. He has also made 61 appearances for England but retired from international duty in 2016 after a discussion with Sam Allardyce who was the manager at the time.
Milner is versatile, ranging from the right side of midfielder into the centre of midfield, both attacking and defensive whilst also doing a stint of left-back when Liverpool required it and he didn’t look out of place. His best position is probably on the right in a midfield three. He has one of the strongest cardiovascular systems in the league as he constantly is running with showing no sign of tiring. This was also noted at a young age as he was a good long distance runner and is also helped by the fact he doesn’t drink alcohol.
This can also be shown by Sadio Mane’s first goal on Sunday as it showed his determination to keep the ball in play and set up Mane for a simple tap in. He has 79 career assists to his name which is more than David Silva, Paul Scholes and Mezut Ozil. On one of the first days of pre season Jurgen Klopp put the players through a fitness test and predicted Milner would be one of the last ones standing and his prediction was true.
Away from football he has been called boring with a parody twitter page being set up about this accusation and becoming very popular on the social media site. However Milner has taken this in his stride and when he did set up his own Instagram and Twitter accounts he has used similar humour and it has gone down well with his followers.
To summarise Milner is a type of player that every team desires due to his hard working ethics and versatility around the football pitch. At 32 years of age, the Englishman is still going strong and could play a big factor in Liverpool being successful this year.