Man Utd’s 11 oldest debutants in the PL era: Grant, Van Der Sar, Ibrahimovic

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Manchester United pride themselves on their record of promoting youngsters – but they have also signed plenty of experienced players over the years.

The likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes made their debuts as teenagers, but some players have to wait until their thirties before they get to play for United.

We’ve taken a look at the 11 oldest players to make their full United debuts and what they did next, starting from the oldest to the youngest.

1. Andy Goram, 37 years 1 day

When Fabian Barthez and Raymond Van Der Gouw were both injured in 2001, Manchester United had a goalkeeping crisis. So Ferguson made the left-field decision to sign Motherwell’s Andy Goram on a loan deal.

Goram made his United debut a day after his 37th birthday, but he conceded twice in a 4-2 win against Coventry and was hauled off after 66 minutes.

The goalkeeper only made one more appearance for United before returning to Scotland at the end of the season.

2. Lee Grant, 36 years 10 months 1 day

Grant has acted as United’s third-choice goalkeeper behind David de Gea and Sergio Romero since signing from Stoke in 2018.

The goalkeeper came on as a second-half substitute against Derby County in his only action of his first season at the club before finally making his first United start in a 2-1 defeat to Astana.

3. Laurent Blanc, 35 years 9 months 20 days

Sir Alex Ferguson had tried to sign Blanc for several years but did not get him until he was 35, signing the centre-back as a replacement for Jaap Stam in 2001.

The Frenchman made his debut against Everton and spent two years at United before announcing his retirement in 2003.

4. Henrik Larsson, 35 years 3 months 18 days 

The legendary striker joined United on a two-month loan deal from Helsingborgs in 2007 and made an instant impression by scoring on his debut in the FA Cup against Aston Villa.

Larsson made another 12 appearances for the club before returning to Sweden, but he now wishes that he had stayed at Old Trafford for a bit longer.

“I should have stayed, that’s the only regret I have in my career. But I still had a contract with Helsingborgs and I feel that when you sign a contract, you have to see it out,” he said.

READ: Remembering Henrik Larsson’s brief loan spell at Manchester United

5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 34 years 10 months 11 days

When Ibrahimovic joined United in 2016, a lot of people doubted whether a 34-year-old could perform in the Premier League.

However, he soon proved everybody wrong with three goals in his first two games in the competition. He finished with 28 goals from 46 appearances for United that season before injury struck.

6. Edwin van Der Sar, 34 years 9 months 15 days

By 2005, United were still looking for someone to fill Peter Schmeichel’s shoes and signed a 34-year-old Edwin Van Der Sar from Fulham for £2million.

The goalkeeper made his debut against Everton and went on to become a United legend after helping the club win four Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008.

7. Raimond van der Gouw, 33 years 5 months 28 days 

United needed an experienced understudy to Schmeichel when Tony Coton left for Sunderland in 1996 so signed Van der Gouw from Vitesse Arnhem.

The Dutchman kept a clean sheet on his debut against Aston Villa and went on to make 61 appearances for United during his six years at Old Trafford.

8. Victor Valdes, 33 years 4 months 10 days

With David de Gea being linked with a move to Real Madrid, Louis van Gaal brought Valdes to the club in 2015 on a free transfer.

The goalkeeper replaced an injured De Gea against Arsenal before making an impressive full debut in United’s 0-0 draw with Hull City.

However, that proved to be Valdes’ last appearance for the club after Van Gaal accused the goalkeeper of refusing to play in a reserves game.

9. Teddy Sheringham, 31 years 4 months 8 days

Sheringham was signed from Spurs in 1997 as Ferguson tried to fill the void left by the retired Eric Cantona. He made his league debut for United against his former club, but he missed a penalty in a 2-0 win.

The striker eventually won United fans over, however, and he got a goal and assist against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final.

READ: How Teddy Sheringham won over Man Utd fans as The King’s replacement

10. Bastian Schweinsteiger, 31 years 21 days

Schweinsteiger had won the lot during his career at Bayern Munich, but he was past his best when he joined United in 2015.

After a few substitute appearances, the midfielder made his full United debut against Newcastle in August, but he missed most of the season through injury.

Jose Mourinho then froze out the German after taking over as manager and Schweinsteiger joined Chicago Fire in 2017.

11. Ricardo, 30 years 9 months 29 days

Ricardo made his full United debut against Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League, but he went on to make just one Premier League appearance for the club.

“I remember Barthez got injured so I had to come on for the second half,” Ricardo says. “There was a long ball and Rio Ferdinand headed it, but the striker got in front of me and I fouled him.

“David Dunn took the penalty to my left and it was a good save and my most incredible moment in Manchester.”

READ: The story of Ricardo’s three years at Man Utd and how it shaped his career


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