A footballer requires supreme patience and loyalty to stay at a single club throughout his career. They often get branded as the one club men and bring joy to the fans with their performances for the club and the country. Our long list of best one-club men is going to have a new member in the near future. It is assumed that Lionel Messi has almost signed a new contract with Barcelona which is expected to be a new five-year deal meaning he will most likely end his career at the club. This again starts his story with Barcelona after he became a free agent a fortnight ago.
— Diario SPORT (@sport) July 14, 2021
We at FootTheBall have compiled the list of top 10 players who have played for a single club throughout their careers. If a person is to qualify for this list, they must have spent their entire season career with the same club, even without a single loan spell (sorry John Terry). The list has got some of the best names in history in them.
Perhaps, Yashin is the keeper who kickstarted the era of sweeper keepers. The Russian shot-stopper was the one who rushed out of goal in the face of danger. He was the one who started to punch the ball away instead of catching it. He was also the one who started distributing long passes to kickstart attacks. Yashin in many ways was the pioneer for a modern-day goalkeeper.
Lev Yashin dives at the feet of Uwe Seeler and smothers the ball during the Soviet’s Union World Cup semi-final against West Germany at Goodison Park back in 1966. pic.twitter.com/QwMROvZ9C2
— GoaliesAreDifferent (@goalkeepersdiff) July 6, 2021
The goalkeeper made 326 appearances for his side in his illustrious 22-year career. He earned the nickname of Black Spider or Black Panther due to his miraculous ability to save any shot. Yashin is the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or and has an award named after him, that recognizes the best goalkeeper in Europe every year.
The Italian is considered a living legend for his 25-year association with his club AC Milan. Maldini is regarded as the best defender of this generation as he retired at the of 41 after making 902 appearances for Milan. He won multiple trophies with them. The Champions League trophy is the best of them as he lifted the famous trophy five times with them.
Elegant on the field at left-back and then centre-back, happy birthday Paolo Maldini!
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 26, 2020
Maldini was a left-back primarily in his formative years. The role was just of a left-back to stay behind and marshall the defence. Maldini handled it expertly and he also adapted to the change as he added attacking output too. Maldini also made a move to the centre of the pitch sometimes and played as a centre-back too at an elite level.
Called by the United faithfully as Giggsy, the Welshman was a serial winner at Manchester United. He is known as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s favorites, as he played his entire career under the Scottish manager. Giggs won a total of 34 trophies with the Red Devils as a player before hanging his boots and taking up management.
22 years ago, Ryan Giggs scored arguably the most iconic FA Cup goal of all time against Arsenal. pic.twitter.com/N8ey6aFNQQ
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) April 14, 2021
Giggs burst onto the scene as a pacy and skillful winger. As time went by, he added other aspects to his game like dribbling, better passing, and shooting. Giggs then became a second striker or playmaker in the United team, thanks to those acquired traits. Arguably Giggs’ most famous strike came in the semi-final of the FA Cup in 1999 against Arsenal – a mazy run from the half line without which Fergie’s boys would not have won the treble.
The battle-hardened midfielder is one of the very few modern one-club men in top leagues. Despite strong interest from other clubs, Totti opted to stay at Roma forever. He gathered 700 odd appearances for the club and scored or assisted in almost half of them.
“I could have won more trophies elsewhere, but my greatest triumph is my loyalty to Roma.” pic.twitter.com/FIqdZ3I6da
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) May 28, 2021
Totti was such a strong character to have in the dressing room. The darling child of an entire club and country, they call him “El Galdiataro” at times.
One of the best midfielders of all time, Scholes was a vital cog in Sir Alexander Ferguson’s United machine. Scholes in 17 years with the Red Devils racked up 400 plus appearances for them. He also scored 100 plus goals for them in all competitions. Scholes won 11 Premier League titles and two Champions League titles in that spell.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 6, 2021
When asked about the best midfielder of all time, Zinedine Zidane simply replied, Paul Scholes. Such was his technique and passing and shooting. Scholes always is a part of the greatest midfielder of all-time debates.
Very few players have the impact on the game as Baresi does. When the legendary centre-back retired in 1997, the club decided to retire his number six jersey. It was a sign of respect for a player who has spent his entire senior player with the club producing such high-quality performances. Baresi won three Champions League titles and six Serie-A titles with them.
Happy birthday to A.C. Milan legend Franco Baresi.
Baresi made more than 700 appearances for the Italian giants, winning six Serie A titles and three European Cups. pic.twitter.com/ZNXrMN4BBY
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 8, 2021
At 5’9 Baresi wasn’t the quickest or the most physically terrifying presence. Instead, he could read the game brilliantly, constantly dealing with attacks before they ever really got started. He also had great leadership skills and helped Maldini become the player he was.
What more can be said about “Mr. Arsenal”? The centre-back’s 18 seasons and 672 appearances for the Gunners have earned him a statue outside the Emirates stadium. He is also considered one of the best players in their history. Adams won four league titles and three FA Cups with the North London outfit.
“I realised when I joined Arsenal that the back four were all University Graduates in the art of defending and Tony Adams was the Doctor of defence.” – Arsene Wenger. #AFC
— Gunners (@Gunnersc0m) July 8, 2021
Adams was proficient in defending and with him at the back, their defence seemed impossible to breach. He looked to suffer from some off-the-field issues such as alcoholism but Arsene Wenger’s arrival changed the scenario as he put the defender back on the right track. He became Wenger’s favorite quickly and was fondly called “The Doctor of Defence.”
The shaggy-haired defender was one of the world’s best during his playing days. Having started his playing career as a right-back, Puyol moved centrally and took over the centre-back spot. Puyol played 682 times for Barcelona in his 16-year spell and captained them for the last 10 years of that spell. He was a serial winner who won the league title six times and the Champions League on three occasions along with the Copa del Rey twice.
“At half-time ‘Puyi’ said, ‘We’ve had three or four corners. Put the next one near the penalty spot and I’ll come charging,” recalled Xavi.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) July 7, 2021
Though he was only 5’10, Puyol wasn’t inferior to any tall striker. He went head to head for any aerial challenge and won the ball. His aggression and strength go hand in hand with his defensive acumen making him the best. Puyol also was a supreme threat from set-pieces.
Carragher had a little cheeky story to his legendary status at Liverpool. The centre-back was an Everton fan in his childhood. He thankfully switched allegiances to the red part of Merseyside and was accepted with open arms. This began the start of a beautiful journey for both the player and the club. Carragher retired with all the medals except the league-winning one.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 10, 2021
Carragher was a classic old-school centre-back who took no prisoners. He went into duels with only one outcome possible. The defender was an all-round package in total. Carragher was time overshadowed by fellow Scouser Steven Gerrard. Yet the pair shared a remarkable friendship.
Brother of the famous Bobby Charlton, Jack was known for his role in England’s triumph at the 1966 Worldcup. Despite his brother playing for Manchester United, Jack spent his entire club career at rivals Leeds United as a centre-back. The late Jack Charlton was a much-loved figure as one-club men go.
A year ago today, we lost the irreplaceable Jack Charlton.
773 apps for Leeds (record)
629 league apps for Leeds (record)
96 goals for Leeds
35 apps for England (Leeds record)
23-year playing career (Leeds record)
7 trophies won for Leeds
2 league titles
1 World Cup
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) July 10, 2021
Jack made 744 appearances in total for Leeds from 1953 to 1973, 628 in the league, 52 in the FA Cup, 7 in the League Cup, and 56 European games plus one charity shield match following Leeds league in 1969. After his playing career, he became the manager of Ireland.