One-club men tend to be very rare in football. Even the likes of Steven Gerrard, Xavi, and Matt Le Tissier spent a year or two elsewhere towards the ends of their careers.
Nowadays, in the age of big-money signings from all over the globe, the one-club man looks like a thing of the past. Lionel Messi still qualifies for now, but that could all change anytime soon.
However, the one-club man is not an extinct species just yet. History has still thrown out some sensational players who stuck with the same team their entire playing careers.
Here’s a starting XI of the best one-club men in the history of football.
Lev Yashin (GK) – In a world where forwards tend to get all of the glory, Lev Yashin remains the only goalkeeper ever to win the Ballon d’Or. This is an astonishing achievement, especially considering the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Iker Casillas and Manuel Neuer have never got their hands on the prize.
Alongside his Ballon d’Or, Yashin won five league titles and three Soviet cups in his 20-year career at Dynamo Moscow, as well as the inaugural European Championships in 1960.
Giuseppe Bergomi (RB) – It was a toss-up between Bergomi and Gary Neville for the right-back spot, but Manchester United will get their fair share of players in this side later on.
The Italian enjoyed 20 brilliant years at Inter Milan, becoming their record appearance-maker (since beaten by Javier Zanetti) while winning one league title, one Coppa Italia, and three UEFA Cups, as well as a World Cup for his country.
Carles Puyol (CB) – Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona were one of the greatest club sides that football has ever seen, and Carles Puyol was a key part of it.
The Spaniard held the captain’s armband for ten years at the Camp Nou, winning six La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues, on top of a World Cup and a European Championship with Spain.
Franco Baresi (CB) – Arsenal fans may feel a bit aggrieved to see Tony Adams miss out, but Franco Baresi could not be ignored.
During his two decades at AC Milan, Baresi made 719 appearances in all competitions, lifting 19 trophies for the Rossoneri and the 1982 World Cup.
Paolo Maldini (LB) – Considered by many to be the greatest defender of all time, Paolo Maldini could also have made it into this team as a centre-back.
The Italian played for AC Milan for an astonishing 25 years, making over 900 appearances in the process. During this quarter-century, he won 25 trophies, including seven Serie A titles and five European Cups.
Paul Scholes (CM) – One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most reliable players, Paul Scholes played 18 seasons for Manchester United, winning ten Premier Leagues, retired, then came out of retirement and won another.
The Englishman is often held in very high regard by those who played with him and is celebrated by many as one of the greatest players to play during the Premier League era.
Ricardo Bochini (CM) – Perhaps lesser known on the world stage, Ricardo Bochini is an icon in Argentinian football.
He spent his entire career at Independiente, winning 14 trophies in total. He was known to be an idol to Diego Maradona, lining up alongside him in the 1986 World Cup.
Tom Finney (RW) – Technically not a one-club man, given that he made appearances for Toronto City and Distillery. However, those were exhibition matches after his retirement, so we’ll let him off.
Tom Finney was a hero at Preston North End, making 569 appearances for them in 14 years, scoring 210 goals.
Finney also won the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award on two occasions – only Thierry Henry has won the prize more often.
Matthias Sindelar (ST) – Unfamiliar to many of the younger generation (and probably quite a few of the older generation), Matthias Sindelar established himself as one of the sport’s finest ever players from 1924 through to 1939.
He spent his career at Austria Wien, scoring 240 goals and starring at the 1934 World Cup. He was voted by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics as the 22nd best player of the 20th century.
Francesco Totti (ST) – Renowned for his loyalty on the pitch (but certainly not off it), Francesco Totti played 25 seasons for Roma from 1992 to 2017.
The Italian holds the record for the most appearances and most goals for Roma, scoring 307 in 786 in all competitions. During his career, he won one Serie A title, two Coppas Italia, and a World Cup.
Ryan Giggs (LW) – Another one of Man Utd’s ‘Class of ’92’, Ryan Giggs was one of English football’s standout wingers for over two decades.
The Welshman has won an unprecedented 13 (yes, THIRTEEN) Premier League titles, as well as two Champions Leagues, four FA Cups, and three League Cups.
He is also Man Utd’s record appearance maker with 963 and their seventh-highest goalscorer with 168.