In the modern game, there’s only a handful of players at the highest level. Whilst most players move around the globe in search of bigger contracts and more money, there’s still a few that show their utmost loyalty to just one side throughout their careers. Here are the top 10 one club footballers to have played the game:
Ryan Giggs (CM) – Manchester United (963 appearances)
If you look up loyalty in the dictionary, don’t be surprised to see a picture of Welsh wizard pop up. The Manchester United legend made the list, as one of the most decorated player in the history of the game. It would be an injustice not to include Ryan Giggs. He was part of the legendary Class of ’92, and turned out an incredible 963 times and scoring 168 goals. The Welshman also spent 24 years at Old Trafford and won an incredible 35 trophies. His trophy haul is second to none and he’s also the most decorated player in English football history.
Paolo Maldini (CB) – AC Milan (902 appearances)
Amazingly, the Italian played for Milan until the age of 41! The greatest centre-back of all time in many people’s eyes, Maldini was unerringly consistent. Il Capitano spent 24 years at Milan, playing 902 games and also won 26 trophies, including 5 Champions League titles. He was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.
Sait Altinordu (CM) – Altınordu S.K. (847 appearances)
Undoubtedly the most obscure name on this list, but one which cannot be ignored. Sait Altinordu may be the least talented player in this list, but when it comes to the other criteria that make a great one-club man, he tops the bill.
Loyalty, longevity and passion for the club all ran in Altinordu’s veins; he even renamed himself after the club. The versatile Turkish international made his debut for Altinordu at 14, and didn’t retire until the age of 41. His total of 27 years at one club is a world record, with 24 years the next longest.
Francesco Totti (ST) – AS Roma (764 appearances)
He has always stated that he only wanted to wear one shirt, and that is what he has done. Totti has been Roma’s captain for 18 years, played 764 games and scored 306 goals for the club he supported as a boy.
One is reluctant to include active players in such articles on the grounds that the player could still play for another team, but with Totti aged 40 and having recently agreed to a final one-year extension at Roma, an exception had to be made. Totti holds godlike status in the Italian capital and is also currently in his 25th season with the club, equalling Paolo Maldini’s Serie A record.
Franco Baresi (CB) – AC Milan (719 appearances)
He was named Milan’s Player of the Century in 1999. Baresi’s reading of the game was legendary and it also allowed him to combine his physical and mental attributes to become a formidable sweeper. He experienced 2 relegations during his 20-year career at AC Milan, but still won 18 trophies, including 6 Serie A and 3 Champions League titles.
When you think of the name Franco Baresi, the word loyalty automatically springs to mind. The Italian made 719 appearances for Milan and is one of the greatest defenders of all time.
Paul Scholes (CM) – Manchester United (718 appearances)
Arguably the greatest midfielder of the Premier League era and England’s most gifted player since Paul Gascoigne, Scholes played 718 games in 21 years at Manchester United, winning 25 trophies.
He is the most decorated English footballer of all time, and one of the most successful footballers in history. He won a total of 25 trophies, featuring 11 Premier League and two Champions League titles. Over his career, he has received praise from other managers and players, including Xavi, who called him “the best central midfielder I’ve seen in the last 15, 20 years”.
Carles Puyol (RB) – Barcelona (593 appearances)
Blimey! While adding a bit of nastiness to a team better known for the flair and flamboyance, Puyol spent 15 years in Barcelona’s first team, making 682 appearances and winning 21 trophies; notably six La Liga and three Champions League titles.
Mainly a central defender, he could also play on the flank as a full back. He was regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation. A one-club man, he also served as the long-time captain Barcelona after taking over from Luis Enrique in August 2004.
Matt Le Tissier (AM) – Southampton FC (540 appearances)
Despite being overlooked by several England national team bosses, Le Tiss, as he was known to the Southampton faithful, was one of the true greats of the English game. The Saints legend played out his entire career on the South Coast and also scored 210 goals in 540 appearances. He became the first midfielder to net 100 Premier League goals. His loyalty garnered special affection from Southampton’s fans who nicknamed him “Le God”.
Tony Adams (CB) – Arsenal (504 appearances)
Considered one of the greatest Arsenal players of all time by the club’s fans, he was included in the Football League 100 Legends. He won four top flight division titles, three FA Cups, two Football League Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. He also uniquely captained a title-winning team in three different decades. A statue honouring Adams was unveiled at the Emirates on December 9 2011, alongside statues of Thierry Henry and Herbert Chapman.
Fritz Walter (AM) – FC Kaiserslautern (364 appearances)
Capable of playing as either an inside forward or an attacking midfielder, Fritz Walter was an incredible footballer. He was picked by Germany as their Golden Player of the last 50 years in 2003, ahead of the likes of Beckenbauer and Muller. Walter spent 22 years with Kaiserslautern, although that was interrupted by the war (where Walter was a prisoner of war and came close to being sent to a Soviet Gulag). He scored 357 goals in 364 games for Kaiserslautern, winning two league titles.
Although we’ve limited this list to 10, so many other players could easily have been included.
- Players must have been at their club for at least of ten years in order to be included.
- Loan spells at other teams disqualify players from being in the list.
- Only the senior first team appearances for each player is counted.
Article By: Oluwaseun Fashina, @Seunpaul14