Liverpool: 5 Most Loyal Players in Reds' History
Liverpool Football Club has long been a side that brings out fine qualities in its staff and supporters: passion, determination and perhaps above all, loyalty.
A modern-day Premier League club can have no hope of achieving major success without at least one of three things: investment, stability or growth.
It's a fine line between the latter two. At times it's hard to judge when a long-serving player has passed the point of being useful and contributing to the progress of the club, and is merely being kept around because they've been a presence for so long.
Progress is an ongoing, important process for any club. The hope for the current Liverpool squad is that the youngsters now playing in the first team—Martin Kelly, Andre Wisdom, Raheem Sterling, etc.—continue to develop and improve, whilst staying for a long time and proving their loyalty to the cause.
Here are the five most loyal players to have worn the Liverpool shirt down the years.
Jamie Carragher, 1997-Present
The only current member of the squad on the list, Jamie Carragher has been a true legend of the club, a word often over-used but certainly applicable in his case.
Carragher might only play a bit-part on the pitch these days, but in a club where so many young defenders are learning their trade, he remains an important asset.
The heroics of Istanbul will forever be the lasting memory of his Anfield spell, but Carragher also had major success with the 2001 UEFA Cup win and five domestic cup wins in his career.
A pair of European Super Cup wins are no mean feat, either.
With over 700 appearances to his name and having never had even the slightest inclination to leave Liverpool, Carragher appears fifth on this list only because he is still playing—posterity may rate him significantly higher.
Sammy Lee, 1978-1986
Sammy Lee has shown tremendous dedication and loyalty to Liverpool throughout his footballing life.
Born locally and raised through the ranks until making his first-team debut as a 19-year-old, Lee was a combative and technically excellent midfielder who won a place in the team despite concerns over his small stature.
Lee spent a decade in the first team before injuries robbed him of his former ability to dictate and dominate a game. He spent a few more seasons at various clubs, but his career was essentially over.
Despite a somewhat premature end to his career, Lee won 12 honours at Liverpool, including three First Division league titles and two European Cups.
Not a bad haul for the local lad.
His time at the club was far from over, though, as he served in different capacities.
Sammy Lee coached Liverpool under the managerial tenures of Graeme Souness, Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier, Rafael Benitez and, briefly, Kenny Dalglish.
Billy Liddell, 1946-1960
Long before Steven Gerrard had to carry the club through the middle of his career, the Reds who play at Anfield were known as "Liddellpool" because their star man was so good—Billy Liddell.
A Scottish winger who could really play in any of the forward positions, Liddell joined the club in 1939 but had to wait until after the end of the war to make his official debut in 1946, in an FA Cup tie.
Liddell went on to feature 534 times for Liverpool and was a big reason that the team did not fall any lower down the English league pyramid than Division Two.
The winger scored over 200 league goals for the club and refused to jump ship when relegation befell the Reds, at a time when other clubs would gladly have taken him off Liverpool's hands.
Liverpool was the only senior club that Billy Liddell represented during the course of his career and he is very much still seen as one of the very greatest players to have ever worn the Reds shirt; indeed, for some only Kenny Dalglish could come close.
Tommy Smith, 1963-1978
The Anfield Iron, Tommy Smith was a hard-as-nails defender who loved the club he grew up with and represented them with far more than mere distinction for a decade and a half.
Smith started his employment at Anfield as a member of the ground staff, in fact, and soon afterwards became a reserve-team player.
Despite making his debut in '63, it was still more than an entire season before he started becoming a regular and ended his first full campaign as a winner of Liverpool's first-ever FA Cup trophy.
League titles and further glory followed. Smith was club captain as the Reds lifted the UEFA Cup in 1973.
It was not all plain-sailing for Smith, who lost the captaincy of the club shortly after that win to Emlyn Hughes, for whom he held a long-running dislike, despite being his teammate. He might easily have left the club at this time.
But loyalty won out and Smith played for Liverpool a total of 638 times, winning four league titles, two FA Cups, two European Cups and two UEFA Cups.
However, despite being a regular and successful member of arguably the best side around at the time, he was capped by England just once.
Ian Callaghan, 1960-1978
The man who has appeared the most times for Liverpool in the entire 120-year history of the club, Ian Callaghan is a true legend of the team.
Born in Toxteth, "Cally" was a winger who first played for the Reds when he took the place of none other than Billy Liddell in 1960.
He went on to continue at the club for close to two full decades, featuring in the club's rise from Division Two all the way to being the best club in Europe.
Bill Shankly made him an integral part of the team, and even after he suffered a serious injury Callaghan came back to make himself a regular, though in the centre of midfield instead of out wide.
He was only booked once in his long Liverpool career and won a multitude of titles: five Division One league titles, two FA Cups, two UEFA Cups and two European Cups.
The League Cup was the only trophy he failed to win, and he even picked up a World Cup winner's medal as part of the victorious 1966 England squad, though he had to wait until 2009 to receive it, as FIFA did not award medals at the time to non-playing members of the winning team during the final itself.
Callaghan won only four England caps in his career, despite his many achievements in the game.
When he did eventually leave the club at 36 years of age, he played for Swansea City under former Liverpool teammate John Toshack.
Callaghan is rightly regarded extremely highly by supporters to this day, and despite the best efforts of current players such as Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, looks set to keep his "most appearances" record for the club.
further reading and statistics from official Liverpool website.