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Milner: I gave the ball away with my first touch!

20 Dec 2018

Liverpool midfielder celebrates Milestone of 500 PL appearances by recalling a tough start

After becoming only the 13th player to make 500 Premier League appearances, James Milner recalled that his first did not get off to the best of starts.

The Liverpool midfielder was given his debut at the age of only 16 for his hometown club, Leeds United, in November 2002.

"I remember being in and around the first team and just wanting to be involved," he said.

'Manager put faith in me'

"I'd travelled a few times with the first team and not got on the pitch and not been in the matchday squad.

"The first time I was in the matchday squad was my debut, West Ham United away."

Milner was on the bench and, with Leeds 4-1 up at half-time, he was optimistic of manager Terry Venables bringing him on.

"We were winning comfortably, so I thought I'd get a good chance of coming on and then West Ham came back, and I ended up coming on at 4-3," he said. 

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"So the manager had faith in me to do that. 

"Unfortunately I passed it straight to Paolo Di Canio with my first touch so that wasn’t the best idea!"

Leeds hung on to win and Milner has played for five big clubs on his way to the Milestone, which was celebrated with a special award presented to him by Cadbury.

Title memories

Along the 16 years, he has many great memories from spells at Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Leeds and Liverpool but says the two Premier League titles at Manchester City stand out.

"It's tough because I've been fortunate enough to have a few," he said of his highlights.

"Making your debut and scoring your first goal for your hometown club is obviously a massive one, but winning the Premier League, winning trophies, is why we do it.

"My time at Man City was special, a fantastic club."

As to whether he can add to his two Premier League winners' medals playing for Liverpool, Milner says the team are not looking too far ahead even though they are top of the table.

"A big strength of this group is how we stay in the present and focus on each game"

James Milner

"A big strength of this group is how we've improved over the last few years but also how we stay in the present and focus on each game," he said. 

"We know how good the teams are in the Premier League and how tough it is to win every game.

"It [the title] is a special achievement and one we're obviously hoping to get to but it's a long way to go and we're coming up against a lot of good teams.

"As a group we just want to concentrate on playing as well as we can and keep on improving."

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