Which footballer has made most appearances in the top flight of English football?

The footballer who has made most appearances in the top flight of English football is former England international goalkeeper Peter Shilton. Shilton made his debut in the Football League First Division, which preceded the Premier League, for Leicester City, as a 16-year-old, on May 3, 1966. He made his final appearance in the top tier for Derby County, who were relegated that season, at the age of 41, on May 11, 1991. In between times, Shilton made 846 First Division appearances for Leicester City, Stoke City, Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Derby County, making a total of 848 altogether.

Shilton was relegated from the First Division three times, with Leicester City in 1969/70, Stoke City in 1976/77 and Derby County in 1990/91, but won the league title, at the first attempt, with the newly-promoted Nottingham Forest, managed by Brian Clough, in 1977/78. His transfer fee from Leicester City to Stoke City in November, 1974, £325,00, was a record for a goalkeeper.

Following his eventual departure from Derby in February, 1992, Shilton spent three tumultuous seasons as player-manager of Plymouth Argyle, in Football League Division Two, before joining Wimbledon, as an out-and-out goalkeeper, at the age of 45, in February, 1995. Thereafter, Shilton was signed on free transfers by Bolton Wanderers, Coventry, West Ham United and Leyton Orient but, between February, 1995 and November, 1996, when he joined the O’s in Football League Division Three, made just one first-team domestic league appearance. However, he would finish his career at Brisbane Road, officially retiring on July 1, 1997, aged 47, with a total of 1,005 league appearances to his name.

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