9 Former Premier League Players You Probably Forgot Were Still Playing in the Football League

England's all-time record goal scorer Wayne Rooney ​enjoyed a glittering career in the top flight, winning five Premier League titles, the Champions League and the FA Cup. 

Rooney appeared to have got his final footballing days planned out to perfection, with a homecoming at boyhood club Everton, before jetting off to live the lavish lifestyle in the States for one last hurrah with D.C. United.

Everything looked set for Wazza to put his feet up and enjoy a cushty retirement, where he could reflect on a pretty complete career.

Wayne Rooney

But from the glitz of east coast America, Rooney journeyed to the glamour of the east midlands to sign for Championship outfit Derby County.

However, Rooney is not the only former player best remembered for his days in the top flight who now finds himself plying his trade further down the footballing pyramid. 

Let's take a look at a selection of the most rogue ex-Premier League stars still knocking about in the football league. 

Stewart Downing (Blackburn)

Stewart Downing

Stewart Downing played a pivotal role in a purple patch in Middlesbrough's history, as they won the League Cup in 2004 and made it to the 2006 UEFA Cup final. 

He went to two international tournaments with England and earned a big money move from Aston Villa to ​Liverpool, but famously failed to register a goal or assist during the entirety of the Reds' 2011/12 Premier League season.

A spell at West Ham followed before he dropped down to the Championship to return to Middlesborough. In the summer of 2019, Downing signed a one year deal at Blackburn. Much like Rooney at Derby, while his speed may of deserted him, Downing's vision and passing ability remain, and he now finds himself deployed as central midfielder.

Charlie Adam (Reading)

Charlie Adam

Another player whose career was never quite the same after signing for Liverpool in 2012 is Charlie Adam. His exquisite passing range and eye for goal had launched Ian Holloway's plucky Blackpool into the Premier League, and persuaded Liverpool to part with £6.75m to secure his signature.

After a year at Anfield, Adam moved to Stoke, where he would spend seven years. The Scotland international joined Championship side Reading in 2019, with fans at the Madejski Stadium still witnessing that famous cross field pass of his from time to time.

Gareth Barry (West Brom)

Gareth Barry

Veteran midfielder Gareth Barry ​has made the most appearances in Premier League history, playing 653 times in the top flight. 

Barry won the Premier League and FA Cup with ​Manchester City and played over 50 times for his country. He's still going strong aged 38, and finds himself attempting to secure automatic promotion with West Brom, having re-signed for the club in November 2019 after originally being released from in the summer following an injury. 

Ashley Williams (Bristol City)

Ashley Williams

Ashley Williams was synonymous with​ the glory days at Swansea City. The defender was ever present as Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup cemented the Swans' place in the top flight, even winning the League Cup in 2013.

Everton coughed up £12m for the Welsh international in 2016, and he went on to make over 50 appearances for the Toffees.

On his 35th birthday, Williams signed a six month deal with Championship outfit Bristol City. In November, with Williams a mainstay in the back four of playoff-chasing City, his deal was extended to the end of the season.

Scott Sinclair (Preston)

Scott Sinclair

A fellow member of Brendan Rodgers' Swansea side, Scott Sinclair's success in south Wales saw him snapped up by Man City for £8m. However, his career nosedived, as he made just 13 appearances during his time at the Etihad.

Sinclair spent a year at ​Aston Villa, but really rejuvenated his career when he was reunited with Rodgers at Celtic. After a trophy laden four years in Scotland, Sinclair moved to Preston in January 2020 to aid the Championship outfit's playoff push.

Darron Gibson (Salford City)

Darron Gibson came through the ​Manchester United academy and was handed his debut by Sir Alex Ferguson. The Republic or Ireland international won the Premier League in 2011, before moving to Everton in 2012.

Spells at Sunderland and Wigan followed, but the Latics released him at the end of the 2018/19 season. Following a six month break, Gibson signed for League Two outfit Salford City in February 2020 - the club owned by his former Manchester United teammates Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. 

He made his Salford debut in the Leasings.com Trophy semi final against Newport, scoring a beautiful penalty in the shootout to help send the Ammies to Wembley.

Ali Al Habsi (West Brom)

Ali Al-Habsi

Ali Al-Habsi spent much of his five-year spell Bolton Wanderers career as the understudy to Jussi Jaaskelainen. He moved to Wigan in 2011, and made over 100 appearances for the club.

He was on the bench for Wigan's famous FA Cup final triumph over Manchester City, before moving to Reading in 2015. 

West Brom signed the veteran goalkeeper in 2019, but Al-Habsi is yet to make a first team appearance for the Baggies.

Michael Dawson (Nottingham Forest)

Michael Dawson

Michael Dawson made over 200 appearances for ​Tottenham after signing from boyhood club Forest in 2005. He captained the side on multiple occasions, earned five England caps and was Gavin from Gavin and Stacey's favourite Spurs player.

He joined Hull in 2014, and the club were relegated from the top flight in 2016. Two years later, Dawson rejoined Nottingham Forest, and is now club captain as the side's promotion push gathers pace.

David Wheater (Oldham)

David Wheater

Middlesbrough and Bolton stalwart David Wheater made over 200 top flight appearances. He moved from Teeside in 2011 following Middlesborough's relegation. Wheater remained with Bolton as they slowly fell down the footballing pyramid as their financial issues worsened. 

In 2019, Wheater left the club for League Two side Oldham, and now captains the Latics.

Source : 90min