One Club Men: A Dying Breed in Modern-day Football
September 01, 2015
(Image URL: http://d.ibtimes.co.uk/en/full/1417202/gerrard-moving-us-yet-decide-club.jpg)
With Steven Gerrard set to leave Liverpool at the end of the season, yet another loyal, one-club player will move on to pastures new. With Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes having also retired in recent times after making 1,675 appearances between them for Manchester United, there is a growing sense that such loyalty is becoming a thing of the past. With staggering amounts of money and the lure of the Champions League providing significant temptation for players, it is worth wondering whether we will see a player such as Steven Gerrard again in the future.
So, who are the most renowned and successful one club players in the history of the game?
Ryan Giggs (Manchester United, 962 games and 168 goals)
The numbers say it all. 962 games, 168 goals, 13 league titles, 4 FA Cups and 2 Champions League winners’ medals tell the story of a driven and successful players, and one who fitness and longevity matched his incredible natural talent. With 34 major honours in total, he is also one of the few players to combine longevity and loyalty with huge success, while he is now continuing his legacy with a stint as Louis Van Gaal’s assistant manager at Manchester United. A one club man from the age of 13 to the present day, there is and will only ever be one Ryan Giggs.
Paolo Maldini (AC Milan, 902 appearances, 33 goals)
The template for Giggs’ longevity may have been established in Italy, where players frequently maintained higher levels of fitness and longer careers. Take the staggering Paolo Maldini, for example, who made his debut in 1985 and was still playing at the highest level more than 20 years later. A defensive legend who played in the great Milan side of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Maldini retired in 2010 with seven Serie A titles, five Champions League medals and five Italian Cup successes.
Francesco Totti (Roma, 702 appearances, 289 goals)
While Francesco Totti has made fewer appearances than the other players on the list, he has the distinction of still plying his trade at the highest level. Roma’s most capped player and all-time top scorer, the thought of playing elsewhere has never once entered the mind of this loyal and passionate player. A Roma player since the tender age of 13, Totti is a cult favourite among local fans while his rivalry against city rivals Lazio is legendary. As anyone who saw Totti’s recent display in the Rome derby and his spontaneous ‘selfie’ goal celebration, the talented forward also has plenty to offer the club.