By Hani Na’eem – @hani_eem
32-year-old Jame Milner is still ticking all the boxes you would want from a professional football player, even after making his 500th Premier League appearance.
There is a funny side to the hypocrisy of football fans. Back in the days when Liverpool’s vice-captain used to play for a Manchester City team that has found new ambitions under new ownership, I used to laugh at the ‘English Messi’ tag which people associated with the Leeds-born winger – he was mostly a winger back then.
Milner did well in his first season at Manchester City. I remember him assisting Gareth Barry’s goal in his debut against no other team than Liverpool in 2010. Liverpool were beaten by three goals to nothing that day and this, for me, was good enough reason to bring my dislike for him to a new level.
Now, a little over eight years since that night at Manchester, James Milner is as dutiful as he has ever been, and I am loving it to no end.
Our vice-captain has consistently proved how valuable he is to this Liverpool team. The versatility of the man from Yorkshire is perhaps his most highlighted trait. Since his move to Liverpool on a free transfer – let’s not forget that – Milner has played in a number of different positions, right back being the latest in the away win at Bournemouth.
Perhaps it is for the best that we will never know what would have happened if Milner had not deputized at left back a few seasons ago when Alberto Moreno was a constant cause for heart problems for Liverpool fans.
However, boring is another adjective that is used when discussions of Liverpool’s number seven are circulated – though perhaps this, in itself, is a compliment. We all remember – at least I do – last season when Milner talked of Liverpool having to learn how to win ugly by just nicking out games.
That’s boring James Milner for you! Though, this term, Liverpool have acquired this new skill and are doing extremely well in the Premier League because of it.
After making his 500th league appearance, James Milner’s professionalism and work ethic are certainly not dwindling. It is perhaps becoming more curious how Manchester City let him leave on a free.
What is more important, of course, is that he is now not only a Liverpool player, but one of my favourites.