The one-club men – not the most common things in today’s game, players who have stayed with only one soccer club their entire career, and here’s our pick for the best loyalists in today’s game, who have played over 10 years with their team. So no Messi or Fabregas, they’re too young and I don’t believe Fabregas will be forever an Arsenal player, sorry Garry Neville, Wes Brown and Jamie Carragher, you’re just not good enough to fit among these – Giggs, Scholes, Terry, Gerrard, Raul, Xavi, Puyol, Casillas and Totti.
Ryan Giggs, Manchester United
The Cardiff born Welshman has been with Manchester United since the age of 14, and played his first pro match on the 29th of November 1990. He has since gone out to win 11 Premier League titles, 2 European Champions League titles and four FA Cups. He has appeared 815 times for the Red Devils in all competitions (a club record), including 570 times in league play, scoring 104 goals so far. A left winger for most of his career and a central midfielder in his recent, older years, Giggs has probably been Ferguson’s favorite “baby”, and despite interests throughout his career, especially from AC Milan (Silvio Berlusconi has always been a great fan of Giggs), never strayed from Old Trafford, despite his roots as a Man City player (played for them between the ages of 12-14).
Paul Scholes, Manchester United
A year younger than Giggs, Scholes was born in Salford, part of the greater Manchester area and has been with the club since the age of 14, despite being an Oldham supporter (he lives in Oldham with his wife and kids). Scholes was more of a forward in the early days, but pretty quickly moved on to the midfield. He made his debut in September 1994, despite being part of the senior squad for almost a year by then. Since that day 15 years ago Scholes has gone on to win 9 Premiership titles with United, 2 UEFA Champions League trophies and 3 FA Cups. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2008, and soon after he was quoted in an interview saying that he has two more years of playing in him, meaning he’ll retire in the end of the 2009-2010 season. True or false? There a few more months for the Redheaded Old Trafford legend to decide.
John Terry, Chelsea
When Terry was 19, he had a short loan spell with Nottingham Forest, but we’ll forgive that sin cause he’s been a Chelsea man through and through despite those six games with Forest. The London born Terry joined Chelsea when he was 14, initially playing as a midfielder and according to the stories, he was moved to Centre back only because of a shortage of players in that position.
Terry became a first team regular for Chelsea during the 2000-2001 season, under Claudio Ranieri. After Marcel Desailly retired, Terry was named captain by new manager Jose Mourinho, going on to lead Chelsea to two back-to-back Premiership titles, winning the 2005 PFA player of the year award. All in all, Terry has won two league titles and three FA Cups with Chelsea and has played 427 games for the club since 1998 in all competitions. He was linked with a Manchester City move this summer, but that was probably a leverage move in order to get more money in the contract negotiations.
Steven Gerrard, Liverpool
Some people forget, but Gerrard, prior to the club winning the Champions League in that amazing final in Istanbul back in 2005, was on the verge of signing with Chelsea. But Liverpool made that comeback that night, won in penalties, and the rest is history. Almost 5 years later, still no league title for Gerrard and Liverpool (fans waiting since 1990) but Stevie G has done everything to make that happen. Born in Whiston, about 8 miles away from Liverpool, Gerrard has been with the club since the age of 17 and made his debut on November the 29th, 1998. He was more of a defensive midfielder at the time, but as his career progressed so did his position on the pitch to a more attacking role.
Gerrard has played 491 games for the club in all competitions and has won 2 FA Cups with Liverpool, one Champions League Trophy and one UEFA Cup. He was voted by Liverpool fans as the second greatest player ever for the club and is the current holder of the Football Writers’ Footballer of the year award.
Carles Puyol, Barcelona
The big haired central defender isn’t the most technique blessed-with player, nor is he the most elegant defender you’ll find around Europe. But he has heart, a lot of heart, maybe more than anyone else. He switches from centre back to right back according to needs and his fantastic marking on Cristiano Ronaldo in last year’s Champions League Final was one of his finest hours.
He has been with the first team since 1999, after four years with Barcelona B, racking up 456 matches for the team, third all time. He has won three league titles with the club, one Spanish Cup and two Champions League titles, all as captain.
Xavi came in to Barcelona’s first team around the same time as Puyol did, pretty much inheriting Josep Guardiola’s place in the first team. It took him some time, but now Xavi is one of the best midfielders in the world, playing the play-maker part to perfection, especially since Guardiola has become the head coach at the Nou Camp. Xavi won Man of the Match in the 2009 Champions League Final and Best Player award in the 2008 Euro, guiding Spain to the trophy.
Xavi was brought up through the Barcelona youth system, being born 20 kilometers away from Barcelona. He is 8 games away from playing his 500 game from the club, second only to Migueli with 548. He has won one more league title than Puyol, four, and was join captain with him in the two Champions League wins.
Iker Casillas, Real Madrid
Another member of the team that won the 2008 Euro’s, and although only 28, he’s been Real’s first choice at goal (almost exclusively) since his teenage years. He has won four league titles and two Champions League trophies with the club he’s been part of since the age of 10. Born and raised in Madrid, Casillas got his chance in 1999 to replace Bodo Illgner at goal and has hardly moved from between posts, barring injury and a short slump during the 2001-2002 season. Although bit unstable at times during his earlier seasons, Casillas has developed into a fantastic shot stopper and a solid rock for Real’s back side, with many considering him to be the best goalkeeper in the world in the last two years.
Raul, Real Madrid
So many accolades you don’t know where to begin – Six league titles with Real and three UEFA Champions League trophies. He’s the Champions League all time leading scorer with 66 goals, Real Madrid’s all time leading goalscorer with 318 goals in all competitions and also Spain’s national team all time leading scorer with 44. Raul, despite playing for Atletico Madrid’s youth team (until some genius, Jesus Gil, decided to close the team), is Real Madrid through and through, and there’s no bigger symbol to his own team around the world.
Francesco Totti, A.S. Roma
Like Raul in Madrid, Totti is synonymous with AS Roma and the city of Rome, born in the city and becoming the team’s (probably) greatest player ever. He’s the clubs all time leading scorer and most capped player in it’s history, and the top active scorer in the Serie A, 8th all time. Totti could have probably won more titles if he’d move to other teams, but he’s been loyal to i giallorossi ever since he started playing, at the age of 16(!!) for the first team. He has moved from attacking midfielder to striker to supporting striker in his career, becoming a more and more attacking player as his career progressed. He won the Serie A with Roma (Roma’s first championship since 1983 and their 3rd overall) in 2001 and unlike the rest of the players on this list, he is also a World Champion, winning it with Italy in 2006.