Today marks the birth of possibly the most loyal footballers of all time – Francesco Totti.
The Italian World cup winner turns 40 years old today, and the astonishing part is, he is still playing for Roma – 27 years after joining the club’s Youth academy.
So, to celebrate this occasion, we have compiled a list of the Top 5 Greatest ever one-club men.
These men have stuck with their club through thick and thin, high and low. Without them, football would never be the same. They were all, at some point, tempted to leave their club in favor of more lucrative deals, but instead chose to stay along with their clubs, true to their beliefs, and have thus, managed to achieve legendary status.
- Francesco Totti (Roma, 25 seasons)
When people hear the name Totti, they instantly think of Roma. This is because Francesco Totti has represented Roma for the past 24 years.
Many of us reading were probably not even born when Totti made his debut on Italian soil.
Totti joined the Roma Youth Squad in 1989, working his way up to the first team, before making his senior debut at the age of 16. Since then, he has played in the subsequent 24 seasons that followed, making a total of 763 appearances so far. He is now 40 years old, playing his 25th season as a professional.
Throughout his career, Totti has won 1 Serie A title, 2 Coppa Italia trophies, 2 Supercoppa Italia trophies, and most importantly, the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Many admire Totti for his loyalty and reliability. He primarily plays as an attacking midfielder, wearing Roma’s No.10 shirt, but he has also been successfully deployed as a lone striker as well as a winger.
Totti has plans to finally end his playing career in 2017, and is certain to forever embed his name in Roma folklore.
- Paolo Maldini (A.C. Milan, 25 seasons)
Few men can have come close to the level of Maldini. And even fewer have done it playing for only one club.
Maldini, born in Milan, joined A.C. Milan’s Youth Setup in 1978. He made his senior Milan debut in 1985 at the tender age of 16.
He was part of the Milan side that won the 1987-88 Scudetto – Maldini’s first ever trophy with the club.
Maldini played over 900 games for Milan, winning just about every trophy imaginable at club level. He won 7 Serie A titles, 1 Coppa Italia, 5 UEFA Champions League trophies, and 5 UEFA Super Cups.
Maldini is regarded as one of the greatest ever defenders of all time, playing at World class level throughout his career, from start to finish.
He initially began playing as a right-back, but was soon moved to the left due to his preferred left foot. He then played as a centre-back for most of his career.
Maldini retired on the 31st of May, 2009, after playing his last ever match for AC Milan.
- Ryan Giggs (Manchester United, 24 seasons)
Ryan Giggs, also nicknamed the Welsh Wizard, played his entire professional career for Manchester United, and even managed the club for four games in 2014 while he was appointed as a player-coach following the sacking of David Moyes.
Giggs joined Manchester United’s Youth squad in 1987 and eventually made his senior debut for the club in 1991.
Sir Alex Ferguson was seeking a player with excellent pace and stamina, and Giggs was the man who provided.
Giggs was part of Manchester United’s famous ‘Class of 92,’ which comprised of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, and Phil Neville. These players were all brought into United’s first-team squad by Sir Alex, and turned out to be a crucial milestone in the history of Manchester United.
Ryan Giggs, now 42, currently holds the club record for most ever competitive appearances, with 963 games under his belt.
Throughout his Manchester United career, Giggs has won 13 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, and 2 UEFA Champions League trophies. He was also part of Manchester United’s treble-winning side in 1999, famously coming from behind to beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
Giggs is also the most decorated player in the history of football, with a total of 34 trophies.
Manchester United fans will forever remember their legend, Ryan Giggs.
- Lionel Messi (Barcelona, 16 seasons)
Lionel Messi, arguably the best footballer in the world at the moment, also makes this list for his continued loyalty towards FC Barcelona.
Messi moved to Spain when he was only 13 years old, and the Catalan club agreed to enroll the youngster in their Youth academy.
In 2003, Messi began his journey from Barcelona’s Youth squad to the first-team squad. He began in Barcelona’s C team, and was promoted to Barcelona’s B team in the same season. In 2004, he made his debut for the Barcelona first-team, and has stayed there till now.
So far, Messi has led his club to 8 La Liga titles, 4 UEFA Champions League trophies, and 4 Copa del Rey cups.
Lionel Messi is also the only player in the world to have won 5 Ballon d’Or trophies, and the Argentine attacker also holds just under 40 records related to football.
Fans around the world regard Messi as the greatest player of all time, although he is constantly compared against Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s up to the fans to decide who the greatest is.
Messi’s immense pace and agility have taken him to new heights in the footballing world, and Barcelona fans will forever be singing his name.
- John Terry (Chelsea, 19 seasons)
Chelsea captain John Terry concludes the list, even though many may argue that he is not a one-club man.
Terry spent a brief period on loan at Nottingham Forrest where he made 6 appearances. However, he never left Chelsea on a permanent deal, and is still considered an all-time Chelsea legend.
He joined Chelsea’s Youth academy in 1995 before making his senior debut 1998. Since then, Terry has helped his team win 4 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups, and 1 UEFA Champions League trophy (although he never actually played in the Champions League final).
The 35-year-old has so far made over 700 appearances for Chelsea, and is currently Chelsea’s highest scoring defender. He continues to play for the Blues, and there doesn’t seem to be any talk of retirement.
Terry is a solid, commanding, and influential defender. He has an impressive aerial presence, and can be categorized for his aggressive nature.