Seventeen Of The Best One-Club Men: A Dying Breed Of Loyal Servants

Kiran WhiteContributor IJanuary 1, 2011

Seventeen Of The Best One-Club Men: A Dying Breed Of Loyal Servants

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    In the football world today, it's hard to find a player who stays with one club for his entire career. In fact its actually a rarity.

    Players today have become mercenaries seeking out money rather than glory, and somehow loyalty has become a thing of the past in the business-oriented world that is called football.

    The one-club man is quickly becoming an extinct species, and those who have dedicated their lives to one club and their cause, are deserving of recognition. 

    In the following slideshow is a list of the greatest and most successful loyalist in the history of the beautiful game. When compiling the list, the following was taken into consideration. 

    Players (past or present) must have been at their club for a minimum of 10 years. Loan spells at other teams disqualify players from being counted  and only seasons with appearances in the senior first team are counted.

    This list although compiled is incomplete and can be expanded as time passes on. So in no particular order here are the most successful one-club men.

Lev Ivanovich Yashin: (1949–1971) F.C. Dynamo Moscow

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    Lev Yashin, nicknamed the "Black Spider," was believed by many to be the greatest goal keeper ever to grace the game.

    He was known for his superior athleticism in goal, amazing reflex saves and inventing the idea of goalkeeper sweeping.

    The goal was treated like an impenetrable fortress when Yashin assumed his position between the "sticks."

    He played 326 games for Dynamo Moscow and made 150 career penalty saves, a phenomenal feat.Yashin also is the only keeper in the history of the game to win the Ballon d'Or. 

    Yashin was voted the best goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS and at the 1994 USA World Cup the Lev Yahsin award for goal keeping was formed and presented to the best goalkeeper of the tournament.

    Many goalkeepers today aspire to reach to the level of this legend but many have failed!

Rafael Moreno Aranzadi ‘Pichichi’: (1911- 1921) Athletic Bilbao

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    Rafael Moreno Aranzadi "Pichichi" (little duck) was one of the finest Spanish forwards to grace the beautiful game. Aranzadi was a prolific scorer, as he made 170 appearances for Bilbao scoring 200 goals.

    Aranzadi died tragically at the age of just 29, succumbing to the horrific condition known as typhus, and his dedication to Athletic Bilbao led to a statue being erected outside the stadium in his honour, which remains to this day.

    Had he lived longer, his statistics would almost certainly have been more impressive and his influence within the Basque club may be even more prevalent.

    So great his influence on the Spanish game, that La Liga's top goalscorer was give an award in his name. In 1953, Spanish sports newspaper Diario Marca introduced the Pichichi Trophy in his honour.

    It was awarded each year to the top goalscorers in La Liga and Segunda División and today remains one of the most prized trophies in Spanish football.

    Today, a statue of him has been erected outside the Bilbao stadium in his honour, which remains to this day.

Santiago Bernabéu Yeste: (1912-1927) Real Madrid C.F.

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    A stadium where you spent your entire career and have it named after you is truly a great achievement.

    Santiago Bernabéu Yeste considered to be one of the most important men Los Blancos history was responsible for transforming Real Madrid from the second most successful club in Madrid into European giants.

    He devoted 66 years of his life to the club, being one of the volunteers who helped paint the stadium and lay the turf and eventually becoming club President in 1943. 

    As a striker, he was prolific.Yeste scored over 1,000 goals in his 16-year playing career, almost single-handedly carrying the team on his back.

    A true one club servant in every sense he restructured the club at all levels, in what would become the normal operating structure of professional clubs in the future.

    He indeed was one of the founder members of the European Cup in its original format, with Real Madrid winning the first five tournaments.

    Under his tenure as club president, he oversaw the signings of greats such as Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo Di Stefano, Gento, Rial, Santamaría, Kopa, Amancio, Pirri, Netzer, Santillana, Juanito, Camacho, del Bosque and many more.

Uwe Seeler: (1953-1972) Hamburger SV

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    Uwe Seeler, a one-club man throughout his career, followed in the foot steps of his father and played for Hamburg SV.

    He was one of the deadliest strikers in post war-Germany, he had tempting offers from Spain and Italy but remained loyal to Hamburg. He also pursuing a second career in Germany as football stars didn't earn much money at the time.

    Uwe spent 19 years at Hamburg making 476 Bundesliga appearances and scoring an astounding 404 goals, giving him one of the most impressive goal-to-game averages around.

    Reputed as one of the best strikers the footballing world has ever observed and noted for his lethal bicycle kick, he was named by Pele as one of the 125 greatest living footballers.

    Seeler was also prolific on the world stage. Scoring 43 goals for Germany in 72 matches, he was the first player ever to score in four World Cup finals and the only player ever to score at least two goals in each of the four World Cup finals.

    As with a lot of one club players Uwe had 2½-year tenure as president of Hamburger SV. His tenure began in 1995, and ended in resignation due to a financial scandal. 

    Although his presidency of the club was marred he is still adorned by many German and Hamburg supporter who refer to him as ‘Uns Uwe’, simply meaning ‘Our Uwe.’

Franco Baresi: (1977–1997) A.C. Milan

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    16 Oct 1994:  Franco Baresi of AC Milan in action during a Serie A match against Padova Calcio at the Silvio Appiani Stadium in Padua, Italy. Padova Calcio won the match 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive  Mason/Allsport
    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Franco Baresi was a Milan legend and one of the World's greatest centre backs. He was noted for his extraordinary ability to read the game and control the pace of play despite his modest physical appearance.

    Baresi is also one of the few players who has spent his entire career at AC Milan, for whom he played 719 games, scoring 33 goals.

    Baresi's influence and ability on the field was so great that his No. 6 jersey that he wore throughout his career was retired in his honour.

    Baresi was colloquially called "piscinin," Milanese for "little one." He was a World Cup winner, taking the trophy with Italy in 1982. In 2004, he was named FIFA 100 greatest players ever and was name Italian Player of the 20th Century by FIGC.

Giacinto Facchetti: (1960–1978) Internazionale

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    Giacinto Facchetti was a legendary Italian defender who made 476 appearances for Inter over the course of 18 years. He was part of the great  “La Grande Inter” which won back to back European Cups in 1964 and 1965.

    Facchetti was remembered as one of the first truly great attacking full backs, and one of the best ever in his position. 

    Arguably his greatest performances were in the 1960s where he revolutionised full-back play. He would support the Internazionale forwards along the left wing and also act as an attacking outlet.

    Later in his career he played as a Central Defender/Sweeper. Sixty league goals came off his foot at a time when Inter Milan focused on Catenaccio, a highly defensive tactical system. 

    Facchetti's spectacular attacks from left back and his powerful short were greatly admired by Germany's Franz Beckenbauer so much that as a sweeper, The Kaiser started to move into more attacking positions and implementing the Total Football system at Bayern Munich.   

    His legendary status would have been assured at Inter even if he had left the club for good when he hung up his boots. Instead, he went on to a backroom position which often gave him more heartache than his playing days ever provided.

    Giacinto went on to become the club President in 2004 till his death in 2006. 

    Internazionale retired his No. 3 shirt in his honour, not only an Inter icon for 18 years, but he was also a mainstay of the Italian national team

William "Billy" McNeill: (1957–1975) Celtic F.C.

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    Billy McNeill was nicknamed "Cesar",and was voted the greatest ever captain of Celtic by the club's fans in 2002. His Celtic side of the 1960s were, at times, an unbeatable force not only in the Scottish league but also on the European stage.

    In the European Cup in 1967, as part of the "Lisbon Lions", and was the first British footballer to hold the European Cup. In addition to his success in Europe, McNeill inspired Celtic to nine consecutive league titles from 1966-1974, and he made over 800 appearances for the club in all competitions.

    He retired as a player in 1975, and every game in which he played in had never been substituted. He won 29 caps for Scotland.

    Two moderately successful spells as manager followed, and now McNeill is one of the most respected ambassadors for the club.

Paolo Cesare Maldini: (1985 – 2009) A.C. Milan

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    MILAN, ITALY - MAY 24:  AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini in action during AC Milan v AS Roma on May 24, 2009 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
    Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

    Arguably the best left back in the history of the game, Maldini was also the Milan and Italian National team Captain for many years and is considered a leader amongst leaders, possessing an extraordinary capacity for inspiring and organising his team mates and co-defenders it earned him the nickname "Il Capitano."

    He played 25 years for the Rossoneri making 647 appearances the most by any player in the Serie A.

    Maldini won the UEFA Champions League a whopping five times. In the 2005 final against Liverpool FC, Maldini scored the fastest ever goal in a European Cup final, after only 51 seconds. He also became the oldest player ever to score in the final.

    In addition to winning the Champions League he has also earned seven Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana, five European Super Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups.

    He played for 14 years for the Italian national team, making his debut in 1988 before retiring in 2002 with four World Cup participations at the age of 40.

    Milan retired his No. 3 shirt, but it will be bequeathed to one of his sons if one makes the club's senior team.

Giuseppe Bergomi: (1980–1999) Internazionale

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    9 Dec 1998:   Giuseppe Bergomi of Inter Milan in action against Sturm Graz in the UEFA Champions League match at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadion in Graz, Austria. Inter won 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Alex Livesey /Allsport
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Giuseppe Bergomi otherwise known as "Lo Zio" for the thick moustache he wore since his teenage days, was regarded as one of the greatest Italian defenders ever.

    Bergomi made his Inter Milan debut in the 1980-1981 season, at the age of 17. His career at Inter almost spanned 2 decades but was spent in the shadow of Italian giants AC Milan, as he won the Scudetto once in 1989 but also claimed the UEFA cup on three occasions.

    For the national side he was the backbone of the Italian defense along with Milan great Franco Baresi and was part of the 1982 Italian World Cup winning team.

    Although he did not amass many personal and team accolades like some of his peers, Bergomi was always destined to remain part of the Nerazzurri. "Il Capitano" tough, clever, no nonsense style on the field will always be remembered by the Internazionale faithful.

Tony Alexander Adams: (1983-2002) Arsenal F.C.

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    21 Jul 2001:  Tony Adams of Arsenal runs with the ball during the pre-season match against Rushden & Diamonds played at Nene Park, in Irthlinborough, England. Arsenal won the match 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill/Allsport
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Arsenal's statistically most successful captain Tony Adam spent his entire footballing career with the Gunners.Considered one of Arsenal's greatest players of all time by the club's fans,he wore the captain's armband at age 21 and served them loyally for 14 seasons.

    Under his leadership, he won four EPL titles, three FA Cups, two Football League Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and three FA Community Shields.

    After he hung up his cleats, he was recognised by his country and was awarded the MBE for his efforts on the field and was also inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame: Football League 100 Legends.

    Adams achieved great things on the football field but his exploits of it have been marred with alcoholism.

    In September 2000, as a result of his experiences with alcohol and drug addiction, Adams founded the Sporting Chance Clinic, a foundation aimed at providing treatment, counselling and support for sports men and women suffering from drinking, drug and gambling problems

    Currently Adams has gone into coaching but his career has been a bit a lackluster. He is currently in charge of Gabala FC.

Ryan Joseph Giggs: (1990– Present) Manchester United F.C.

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    The Welsh Wizard has been with Manchester United since the age of 14, and played his first senior team match on Nov. 29, 1990. He has surpassed Dennis Irwin as their most capped player in 2002 and have won won 11 Premier League titles, 2 Champions League titles and four FA Cups.

    He has appeared 815 times for the Red Devils in all competitions (a club record), including 597 times in league play, scoring 109 goals thus far. 

    Giggs is a tireless runner has been noted to score important goals.One of the most talented players of his generation, Giggs' ability to use his skills at a top speed quicker than just about any defender in the game, has made him a mainstay in Sir Alex's attacking line.

    It also seems that with age, his intelligence and ability with the ball just seems to improve each year.   Having won 64 caps for his country before retiring from international football in 2007, Giggs is recognised as one of the best players never to have feature at a World Cup. He also missed out on playing at the European Championship.

    At Manchester United, Giggs is the only player  to have won 11 league titles, and the only player to have played in all eleven Premier League-winning teams.

    As an outfield player, he has the most league appearances. He is also the only player to have scored in all 19 Premier League campaigns since its inception and the only player to have scored in 11 consecutive Champions League tournaments.

    In addition to this, he is the first player to score 100 Premier League goals for Manchester United.

    Ryan Giggs, a true legend at Old Trafford, will be missed by many English, Wales and Red Devil fans when he retires at the end of the season.

Paul Scholes: (1994– Present) Manchester United F.C.

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 16:  Paul Scholes of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on August 16, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Paul Scholes, considered one of the neatest passers in the modern game, has called the Theater of Dreams his home for the last 16 years.

    One year younger than fellow Red Devil veteran Ryan Giggs, he was described by another United legend Sir Bobby Charlton as "the embodiment of all that I think is best about football."

    One of the most gifted players to have graced the EPL, Scholes has been with the club since the age of 14. In his early days he was more of a forward, but pretty quickly moved on to the midfield.

    He debuted in September 1994, despite being part of the senior squad for almost a year by then. Since that day, Scholes has gone on to win 9 Premiership titles with United, 2 UEFA Champions League trophies and 3 FA Cups and was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

    Scholes has made over 600 appearances for United, the fourth-highest number of appearances by any player for the club.

    In June 2010 he announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2010–11 season. However, he was later quoted as saying that he would continue beyond the season if United were successful and is "doing the job the manager wants."

    In his old age, Scholes' passing ability and hunger for goals is second to none.

Xavier Hernández I Creus: ( 1998- Present) F.C. Barcelona

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    "Xavi is a player who has the Barcelona DNA: someone who has the taste for good football, someone who is humble and someone who has loyalty to this club. From the first moment I saw him play, I knew he would become the brain behind Barcelona for many years to come. He plays very, very well and much better than I ever played even when I was at my best." Pep Guardiola, September 2008.

    The technician of the Barcelona midfield is blessed with extraordinary vision and boasts a tremendous workrate. A graduate of the world famous La Masia Youth Academy, Xavi has gone on to become the master "Orchestrator" in one the most talented Barcelona teams ever to play in Europe.

    Not known for his goal scoring abilities, Xavi's flawless passing, ability to hold to the ball and take advantage of set pieces has a made him an invaluable asset at the Camp Nou. Xavi has made over 360 appearances thus far for Barcelona since 1998.

    Only Migueli has played more La Liga games (391) for Barcelona than Xavi, a record that should be easily shattered once he serves out his contract till 2016. "El Maestro" has won everything there is to win in the game, including the 2010 World Cup and is one of the best playmakers of his generation.

    Xavi finished 2010 on a high, as he became one of the three finalists for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or, alongside Barcelona teammates Iniesta and Messi and narrowly defeated Lionel Messi to win World Soccer's Player of the Year.

Francesco Totti: ( 1992 -Present) A.S. Roma

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    ROME - SEPTEMBER 19:  Francesco Totti of AS Roma in action during the Serie A match between AS Roma and Bologna FC at Stadio Olimpico on September 19, 2010 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
    Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

    Francesco Totti, captain of AS Roma and a World Cup-winning footballer has been praised by critics as one of the finest footballers of his generation.

    He joined AS Roma's youth team in 1989,and made his first appearance on the Giallorossi senior side at the age of 16, when coach Vujadin Boškov let him play in the 2–0 away victory against Brescia on the 28th March 1993.

    At Roma, Totti has made over 450 appearances and has become the club's greatest player in its history. In addition to this, he has become the club's leading goalscorer and most capped player.

    Francesco has a had wonderful career. Although many said he never fulfilled his potential, he did so much more for Roma.

    He never left his home although being tempted with lucrative contracts. "Er Pupone" has won many individual awards, including a record five Italian Footballer of the Year awards and two Serie A Footballer of the Year awards.

    In addition to this, he was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004. He is currently the top active Serie A goalscorer and sixth all-time in league history.

    A true Roma legend, this talismanic one-club man will live on in the hearts of Roma fans and Italian fans alike.  

Steven George Gerrard- (1998 – Present) Liverpool F.C.

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    Stevie G, the talismanic figure at Anfield and one-time Chelsea target, was winner of the epic Champions League final 2005 in Istanbul.

    Gerrard has been with Liverpool at the age of 17 in 1998 and cemented his place in the first team in the 2000–01 season and succeeded Sami Hyypiä as Liverpool team captain in 2003.

    He has transitioned from a defensive midfielder to one of the best attacking midfielders in the world today.  

    Gerrard has played 376 games for the club in all competitions and has won 2 FA Cups with Liverpool, one Champions League Trophy and one UEFA Cup. The EPL still eludes him.

    He was voted by Liverpool fans as the second-greatest player ever for the club and is the current captain of the English Senior football squad.

Carles Puyol Saforcada: (1999– Present) F.C. Barcelona

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 20:  Carles Puyol of Barcelona jumps after kicking the ball during the UEFA Champions League group D match between Barcelona and FC Copenhagen at the Camp nou stadium on October 20, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won the ma
    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Carles Puyol is another La Masia product and is known for his leadership and intense ruggedness on the field.

    As a Catalan homegrown talent, he is more than any proud to wear the Barca colours and often described as the heart of the side.

    So tremendous is his work ehtic that fellow defender Gerard Piqué said: "He's someone who, even if you're winning 3-0 and there's a few seconds left in the game will shout at the top of his voice at you if he thinks your concentration is going." 

    Mainly a central defender, he can also play in both left and right back positions. In 2004, he took over captaincy of Barcelona under coach Frank Rijkaard.

    His tenure as club captain has been a sucessful one, winning 4 La Liga titles, the Spanish Cup, four Spanish Supercups, the UEFA Supercup, two UEFA Champions League trophies and a FIFA World Club Championship.

    Nicknamed the "Caveman" for his long shaggy hair, he won his first World Cup trophy with the Spanish national team in 2010.

    A favourite with the Nou Camp crowd, Puyol stands out for his tremendous fitness levels, fighting spirit and his discipline.

    Playing in over 350 games for the Blaugrana, Puyol is a true servant to his his club on and off the pitch.

Iker Casillas Fernández: (1998–Present) Real Madrid C.F.

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    MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 19: Iker Casillas of Real Madrid shows the trophy of Golden Glove Award prior of the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Sevilla at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 19, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty
    Angel Martinez/Getty Images

    Iker Casillias, one of the finest keepers of his generation, has put on his gloves for The Merengues for the last 11 years.

    A rare homegrown talent, "San Iker" joined the team at age 9 and have gone on to cement his place under the Del Bosque era at Real Madrid.

    Adorned by millions of Madridistas, he has made 401 senior team appearances and eventually became captain of Madrid.

    Although his last trophy with the club was in 2007 under Fabio Cappello, this past summer were met with happier times as he won the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Spain and was awarded the Golden Glove award for best keeper of the tournament.

    Super agile, quick, intelligent, and nearly unbeatable due to impressive reflexes, he is  the last line of defence in a team that often places minimal emphasis on that art form. 

    During the 2009–2010 La Liga season on Oct. 4 in a game against Sevilla F.C., Casillas made an extraordinary save and denied Diego Perotti in a one-on-one close range encounter.

    After the game, England goalkeeping legend Gordon Banks,stated "Casillas' reflexes are incredible. If he continues to play this well he will become one of the best goalkeepers in the history of the game."

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