The Football League is often where ex-premier league players have their last dance before riding into the retirement sunset.
Here are some former top players you might be shocked to still bat around a ball to make a living in the EFL…
It’s now 15 years since left centre-back Sheffield United joined Everton (yes we’re all getting old).
Signed for just £4million, Jagielka proved a huge success at Goodison Park, making over 300 Premier League appearances. Once he channeled his inner Alex (unforgettable ex-Chelsea player) to score a worldie against Liverpool.
He was also capped 40 times for England between 2008 and 2016. This was a particularly bad time for the national team, with its managers ranging from Fabio Capello to Sam Allardyce. Those were the days.
Jagielka returned to Sheffield United in 2019 and stayed with them throughout their two-year tenure in the Premier League.
Following Chris Wilder’s departure and subsequent relegation, the defender became a free agent before joining Derby County. He was managed by Wayne Rooney while the club went through financial turmoil off the pitch.
Despite their problems, Derby performed well in the actual games and Jagielka contributed to their success. But he left in January when his contract expired as their transfer embargo barred further negotiations.
Their championship rivals Stoke City saw this as an opportunity to snap him up and he made 20 appearances for them before the 2021/22 season ended. The 39-year-old signed a new short-term contract in the summer, meaning he will continue in the Football League well into his 40s. Fair play.
How on earth is this guy still alive?
You might be surprised to hear that he’s also a youthful 35. He played in the Premier League with Birmingham City, Stoke City and yo-yo dealers Norwich City.
A la Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic, he’s never been as good in the top flight as he is in the league.
Jerome’s career in English football appeared to be over in 2018 when he joined Turkish super-league side Göztepe. But after his release two years later, his ex-Norwich teammate – Russell Martin – signed him for MK Dons.
He’s even enjoyed something of a late-career renaissance, scoring 13 goals for MK Dons in League One in the 2020/21 season.
That form earned him a Championship retreat when Luton Town fell for his charms. He made 31 league appearances last season and is now entering his second season with the Hatters.
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) November 29, 2020
Now for another ex-England international. His magic on everton Some may have passed early in his career but he is best known for his time at Norwich City.
He was in the Premier League with the Canary Islands for four seasons between 2011 and 2017. His form during his top-flight debut saw him earn his only England cap during Roy Hodgson’s disastrous tenure.
Now that Wolves had established themselves in the Premier League it was prudent to sign him on a free transfer ahead of their 2017/18 championship campaign.
The eventual champions had an unfair team this season, with Diogo Jota, Willy Boly, Matt Doherty and Conor Coady among the better players.
Ruddy played in all but one of their league games as Wolves finished on 99 points, but he only made five Premier League appearances in four seasons as he played second fiddle to Rui Patricio and Jose Sa.
The 35-year-old is now back in the Championship having moved to Birmingham City. The goalkeeper knows the relegation battle very well and should be there again this season.
There’s not much that tickles Chelsea more than keeping academy players on their books just for the sake of loaning them out.
I mean god, Jamal Blackman (remember him?) left Chelsea for good last year at the age of 27 after not making a single senior appearance.
Undoubtedly, to his relief, Mancienne didn’t have to wait as long for his final exit as Blackman. The centre-back made six appearances for Chelsea and was on loan at Wolves in the Premier League before finding a home in Germany in Hamburg.
In 2014 he returned to England to join Nottingham Forest. He made 124 league appearances before his already odd career took another bizarre turn when he signed for MLS club New England Revolution.
Mancienne could have been forgiven for ending his career in the United States but in early 2021 Burton Albion signed him from League One.
This was announced a few months after Chelsea legend Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink returned for a second term as manager.
The ex-Chelsea man has had his fair share of teammates out there at Burton. Former Man Utd youngster Cameron Borthwick-Jackson is currently there while Everton flop Oumar Niasse was at the club for a short stint last season.
The key takeaway from this is that Hasselbaink must have played a lot of Football Manager.
The last is the versatile former Newcastle United defender. He joined the Magpies in the summer after they won the 2009/10 championship.
He was signed by Chris Hughton but replaced by Alan Pardew in late 2010.
Perch played regularly under the ex-West Ham boss, whose infamous eight-year deal at Newcastle eventually ended in 2020.
He played 65 times for Newcastle in the Premier League before champions club Wigan Athletic bought him in 2013.
A stint at QPR followed and he has spent the last few seasons in League One and now League Two with Scunthorpe United and Mansfield Town.
His experience and reliability in the Football League has allowed him to play longer than most. The soldier even returned to Mansfield early last semester after suffering a fractured skull.
In what may be Perch’s last season, Mansfield will be aiming for promotion to League One. The F365 team (well, Steady) hopes they do anyway…