A salute to 10 of the greatest one-club men

Steven Gerrard’s forthcoming move to LA Galaxy means he will fail to join an illustrious band of professional footballers who have spent their entire senior careers at one club.

The 'one-club man' is a rarity in the modern game owing to the cash players can earn from transfers.

These players – all retired – have stayed loyal to their teams the whole way through their careers, shunning lucrative offers to remain where they were, whether trophies were on offer or not.

This is a salute the greatest partizan players in world football.

Paolo Maldini – AC Milan

Is there a player who was consistently as good as Paolo Maldini over the 24 years he spent playing for his beloved AC Milan between 1985 and 2009? He amassed five Champions League titles and numerous domestic honours.

Ryan Giggs – Manchester United

Giggs could have taken many big-money offers from Italy and Spain but the adopted Mancunian stayed in Manchester to become United's record appearance maker and he is now the club's assistant manager. The Welshman is the most decorated player in British football history collecting 13 Premier League medals and a host of domestic cups to go with his two Champions League medals.

Jamie Carragher - Liverpool

Brought up as an Everton fan, it was across Stanley Park in Liverpool's red where Jamie Carragher became a legend. The league title eluded him but that is just a footnote in his career. For Liverpool fans he will always be remembered for his physics defying last ditch tackles in the 2005 Champions League final.

Paul Scholes – Manchester United

The man Zinedine Zidane described as his favourite contemporary, Scholes was a genius on the football field. He began his United career as a striker scoring two beauties in a League Cup tie at PortVale – a match in which Alex Ferguson was roundly criticised for de-valuing the tournament by playing youngsters. He went on to become a midfielder and possibly the best passer of a ball the modern game has seen.

Matt Le Tissier - Southampton

The Guernsey born attacker just shrugs his shoulders when asked why he ignored the approaches from top teams in the Premier League. Le Tissier spent his entire career at Southampton picking up a total of zero medals but scoring goal after beautiful goal.

Franco Baresi – AC Milan

'Elegance' is probably the best word to describe this great. Baresi was a composed ball playing centre-back in arguably the greatest era in AC Milan's history between 1989 and 1994. The Italian is probably the only player to miss a penalty in a World Cup Final and not have his career defined by it. That is because of the momentous amount of trophies he picked up in Milan where he won three Champions League titles and he had already won the World Cup in 1982 with Italy.

Gary Kelly – Leeds United

The game wasn't about trophies for Gary Kelly. The Drogheda stayed with Leeds through the '90s, their cash led title assaults in the early '00s and their relegation implosion in 2004. Kelly, though, did play 51 times for Ireland in a very respectable career.

Tony Adams - Arsenal

If Arsene Wenger had a player like Tony Adams in his team now, Arsenal would be title contenders. Adams captained the Londoners to League and FA cup doubles in 1998 and 2002 and a statue outside the Emirates is a fitting and permanent tribute to him.

Carlos Puyol - Barcelona

The Catalan's list of honours is so long, you can barely read to the end. Making his debut in 1999 he won every honour in the game for Barcelona and Spain while being equally effective as a full-back or central defender.

Packie Bonner - Celtic

A penalty save by Packie Bonner at Italia 90 is practically responsible for kick-starting the Celtic Tiger era in Ireland, but the big man had a steady club career at Celtic winning eight major honours between 1978 and 1998, making 483 appearances in the process.

Yet to retire one-club men

Xavi - Barcelona

Andrés Iniesta - Barcelona

Francesco Totti - Roma

Daniele De Rossi - Roma

More in this section


Join us for our International Women’s Day virtual lunchtime celebration on Monday, March 8 from 1pm

Home Delivery


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.