The 4 Outfield Players Who Played Every Minute in Premier League Winning Seasons

Winning the Premier League is a significant achievement. Obviously. But being able to stake a claim being fundamental to the title triumph is something very few can boast. 

We’re talking about the opposite of Martin Keown in 2004. 

In his prime, Keown was certainly a crucial member of Arsenal’s defence, but by the ‘Invincibles’ season, the 37-year-old was somewhat less vital (his main contribution was screaming in Ruud van Nistelrooy’s face). His final six outings of the campaign all lasted three minutes or fewer to take him beyond the appearance-requirement for a medal.

Arsenal's Martin Keown taunts Manchester

At the other end of the contribution spectrum, only four outfield players in ?Premier League history have played every minute of a title-winning campaign. 

This group was on course to welcome another recruit this season as, prior to the suspension of play, Virgil van Dijk was yet to miss a second of league football for champions-elect Liverpool. 

Whether the Premier League season will even finish is anyones guess, so let’s use this hiatus as an opportunity to look back on the few outfield players to have previously achieved this feat.

1992/93 – Gary Pallister (Manchester United)

Gary Pallister

When Gary Pallister tripped ?Sheffield United’s Alan Cork to give away the first ever Premier League penalty, it not only looked unlikely that the centre-back would be ?Manchester United’s most consistent player, but their title tilt appeared to have stalled before it had even begun. 

In that opening game of the season, Pallister and his side lost 2-1, and after 15 games were as low as 10th, nine points behind surprise leaders Norwich. 

Then Eric Cantona changed everything when he joined in November 1992, after Sir Alex Ferguson had consulted Pallister and Steve Bruce on the Frenchman following a game against Leeds. 

The club’s form picked up and, with Pallister (whom Ferguson surprisingly named the fastest player he’d ever worked with at United) in the side every step of the way, secured their first title for a quarter of a century. 

2014/15 – John Terry (Chelsea)

John Terry

It would be more than two decades before another outfield player joined Pallister as a Premier League winning ever-present – in that time ?Peter Schmeichel (1993), Jens Lehmann (2004) and Joe Hart (2012) could also boast a 100% appearance record but from the safety of between the posts.

In José Mourinho’s second spell at Stamford Bridge, club captain John Terry proved undroppable as ?Chelsea romped to the title, leading the league for a record 274 days. 

Teammate Branislav Ivanovi? would have joined his captain on this list and actually did complete the regulation 90 minutes in every league game, but was dismissed in the third minute of stoppage time against Manchester United.

The Serbia international misses out by the finest of margins as he served his one-game suspension in the League Cup, so was off the pitch for just a handful of Premier League seconds that season. 

2015/16 – Wes Morgan (Leicester City)

Wes Morgan

In perhaps the most radical football campaign in the sport’s entire history, Leicester City won the Premier League title with Wes Morgan as the ever-present captain who lifted the trophy. 

The Jamaica international rightly garnered much acclaim from all corners with ?Harry Redknapp making the argument that Morgan had more than earned an England call-up. Forming a formidable partnership in central defence with the equally totemic figure of Robert Huth, Leicester leaned heavily on their backline going into the final stretch of the campaign. 

After letting their lead slip against ?Arsenal on Valentine’s Day, Leicester, anchored by Morgan at the back, recorded five 1-0 victories in six games to bring them to the brink of an unbelievable title.  

Morgan’s 100% appearance rate was the most emphatic example of an overall policy employed by Claudio Ranieri that season as ?Leicester recorded the second fewest starting XI changes by a Premier League champion since Manchester United in 1992/93 – who produced their own ever-present in the form of Pallister. 

2016/17 – César Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Cesar Azpilicueta

In the final game of this campaign John Terry openly flouted the achievement of playing every Premier League second by orchestrating his own substitution in the final game of the season in the 26th-minute (his eternal squad number). 

?César Azpilicueta was there watching his club captain trot off the pitch (which was so slow Terry was actually subbed in the 28th-minute) and would play each of the 3,420 minutes. 

The versatile Spaniard proved to be a favourite under Antonio Conte. Having started the season as a left-back the man his teammates nicknamed ‘Dave’ (due to the difficulty in pronouncing his surname) thrived on the right-hand side of a back-three. 

Chelsea won the title after the switch in formation, becoming the first side in a 20-team English top flight to record 30 wins, with Azpilicueta assisting ?Michy Batshuayi for the goal which sealed their crown against West Bromwich Albion. 


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