In today’s sports it is now very rare to find players willing to stay at a single club or franchise from grassroots to retirement. Commercialization of sports has part contributed to this as well as the need for athletes to grow and learn new skills. It is inherently human to want to seek pastures anew . For me personally I would feel suffocated staying at a single place day in day out seeing the same faces over and over again. That is what makes the soccer stars I am about to profile all the more special. They decided to forgo the financial gains that come with moving to bigger teams or they were so in love with their home town team they could not ever think of leaving. Sometimes it is hard for a common man to fathom. Here are 8 of the best ONE CLUB MEN IN SOCCER HISTORY.
8. MATTHEW LE TISSIER
Famous for the spectacular individual goal, Matt spent his entire career at Southampton from 1985 to 2002. His game was built on skill not pace. This may have rubbed many managers the wrong way. He ended up playing only 8 times for England. My best memory of him believe it or not was when he scored at Old Trafford in 1999 against Massimo Taibi(Remember him). A seemingly innocuous shot that slithered under the error prone United goalie. Anyway here is Matt scoring in his last ever competitive match at the Dell for Southampton. What a lad.
The former Arsenal captain and defensive steward spent all his professional career at Highbury .He is the only player to have captained a side to a league title in 3 decades. His major career highlight is undoubtedly winning the league and cup double in 1998, the first under Wenger. He never won a champions league medal which is perhaps the only blemish in otherwise a stellar career. The defensive axis of him-Keown-Seaman was the best ever for England. He deserves special mention for battling alcoholism so openly and bravely too.
Mr Roma.He joined AS Roma as a 6 year old in their junior ranks and stayed put for all of 34 years at the Rome club. His career highlight was winning the FIFA WORLD CUP 2006 with the Azurri. Although his club success was somewhat ordinary(winning just 1 scudetto)he is considered the best playmaker to have come out of Italy. His love affair with Roma did not end in 2017 upon his retirement, no it didnt. He moved into a directorial role at the club.He even turned down a move to Real Madrid to become a galactico.
For me he and his namesake Gascoigne were the only naturally skillful Englishmen in the 1990s. Paul is a member of the famous class of 92 at Manchester United along with one other individual higher up on this list.He could thread a pass through a needle(I really mean that). He had an awesome right boot capable of scoring the occasional rocket.He was part of the squad that won the treble in 1999 although he missed the final through suspension(against Bayern)Englishmen will probably hate my guts for saying this but his career really blossomed after he retired from international duty in 2004. He added another champions league medal in 2008. He was so good Sir Alex recalled him back in 2013 after he retired even at the expense of a youngster called Paul Pogba.
4.ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO
The second world cup winner on this list. I have to give Delpi his much deserved props here. He stuck with Juventus when they were relegated to Serie Bowing to the match fixing scandal of 2006. He could have moved to a bigger and better playing teams abroad but he stuck it out bowing out on a high.He and Totti epitomized the number 10 that is both modern and able to defend as well as attack. He has a lot of highlights in terms of goals. My earliest memory was the backheeled goal against Dortmund in the Champions league final in 1997 although in a losing cause. His best without a doubt for me was his goal against hosts Germany in the World Cup 2006 Semis.
If you had not known him as a steely defender you might have thought he was a member of a rock band.But Carles Puyol is Barcelona through and through. He joined the club at the La Masia level. He is said to have refused a move away even on loan in 1998 after he saw his friend Xavi graduate to first team status. This proved to be a wise move. He has gone on to win everything club and international football has to offer with FC Barcelona and Spanish national team. Imagine facing a defence consisting of Sergio Ramos and Carles Puyol. No wonder Spain conquered the world.
The current Wales national team manager needs no introduction at all. His career mirrored Scholes’s except for international success. His only blemish was his failure to feature in a world cup finals with his native Wales. His career progression saw him go from rampaging left winger to a tidy defensive midfielder in his later career stages. He like Scholes retired on a high and he even took over the reigns at Old Trafford after the Moyes stint. His reel here means I need say more.
1. PAULO MALDINI
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