French journalist 'ashamed' of police behaviour to Liverpool fans
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James Milner has snubbed offers from three clubs to sign a contract extension at Liverpool, extending his professional career beyond the 20-year mark. Aged 36, Milner has accepted a reduced salary to remain at Anfield next season, by the end of which he would’ve been a Liverpool player for eight years.
The midfielder’s somewhat surprising renewal mirrors plenty of footballing icons in the past who have simply refused to hang up their boots. Express Sport pinpoints four legends of the game whose ‘twilight years’ lasted longer than most others.
Paul Scholes became one of the most decorated players in football history throughout his 17-year stint at Manchester United before calling time on his career in 2011. Just a few months after his testimonial, training with United’s reserves reignited Scholes’ desire to play, and he signed a short contract to return to Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad midway through the 2011-12 season.
He made his comeback in a 3-2 FA Cup win at Manchester City and added an 11th Premier League title to his CV the following season – his final as a professional footballer. Scholes finally retired aged 38, and the decision to return for a season-and-a-half has only boosted his legacy.
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Francesco Totti made his AS Roma debut aged 16 in 1993. Fast-forward to 25 years, 783 games and 307 goals later, he retired as a 40-year-old one-club player and will go down as one of the most iconic strikers in European football history.
His final contract extension came aged 39 when he announced he would be retiring at the end of the 2016-17 season. Milner undoubtedly has maintained the fitness levels and drive to surpass Totti’s longevity, but he would have to continue his career at another club.
Like Totti and Scholes, Giggs retired as a one-club player and announced his decision in May 2014. The Welsh winger made his United first-team debut aged 17 in 1991 and called it a day as the most decorated player in the club’s history, lifting 34 trophies across 963 appearances.
Giggs remained at Old Trafford beyond his playing days, joining Louis van Gaal’s coaching staff. Michael Carrick recently did the same, and Milner could follow in their footsteps if he calls time on his playing career at the end of next season, and Jurgen Klopp wants him to stick around.
You can’t mention longevity in football without featuring arguably the most iconic goalkeeper in the sport’s history, Gianluigi Buffon. The fact the 44-year-old has signed a contract extension at Parma until 2024 perfectly backs that up.
Buffon debuted for Parma aged 17 in 1995 before enjoying a career, including two stints at Juventus and a spell at PSG, that will have spanned across three decades by the time he retires. There aren’t many names you could consider to be in the Italian icon’s bracket when it comes to maintaining such a high level of performance for such a long period.
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