May 7, 2017
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With Roma’s Francesco Totti retiring, who are the other legendary one-club men?

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AS Roma have confirmed that Francesco Totti is set to retire at the end of the season and bring an end to an illustrious 24 year playing career in the Italian city of Rome.

The 40-year-old is the epitome of a one-club man – a rare example of a dying breed of player who pledges their entire career to a single team.

He is Roma’s all time record appearance holder having represented the Gallorossi over 600 times, scoring in excess of 250 goals, and has captained the side for more than a decade, securing two Serie A titles and two Copa Italia’s.

He is a truly talismanic figure and a genuine modern day legend, it is little wonder that the club’s supporters regard him as Roma’s greatest ever player and have handed him the title of ‘King of Rome’.

It is becoming increasingly rare to find players that choose to remain at one club for the entirety of their career and loyalty is a sparse commodity in the modern game.

However, Totti is not the only legendary one-club man to have graced the football stadiums of Europe over the last decade.

Here are The Boot Room’s five greatest one-club men.

Paolo Maldini

Possibly the most iconic defender of his generation, Paolo Maldini cemented his place as a true legend of the modern game after an illustrious career with AC Milan.

The Italian made his debut in 1995 as a 16-year-old and continued playing for the Rossonero for a quarter of a century before he retired at the age of 41 in 2009.

In total he made over 1,000 appearances in professional football for Milan and the Italian national team, an astonishing achievement, and it is little wonder that the number 3 shirt was withdrawn by the club in his honour.

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Maldini succeeded Franco Baresi, who was also an talismanic one-club man, as the captain of AC Milan and he was referred to as Il Capitano (‘The Captain’) by his team mates in recognition of his leadership qualities.

He won seven Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia and the Champions League on five occasions, making him one of the most decorated players in history.

 Ryan Giggs

The Welsh wizard burst onto the scene at Manchester United as one of the club’s famous “Class of 92” golden generation of young players along with Gary Neville and Paul Scholes (who also spent the entirety of their playing careers at Old Trafford) plus Nicky Butt and Phil Neville.

Together they formed the foundation on which Sir Alex Ferguson built almost two decades of continuous success both on the domestic front and in European competitions.

Ryan Giggs was initially renowned for his pace, trickery and creativity in wide areas before slowly transitioning into a central midfielder with astonishing vision and an impressive range of passing when he entered the autumn of his career.

He made 963 appearances and scored 168 goals for United in a career that spanned 23 years, winning 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League on two occasions – making him the most decorated player in Premier League history.

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Carles Puyol

Barcelona have undoubtedly been the most successful club team in European football over the last decade and their success was characterised by their talismanic captain Carles Puyol.

The defender, who started his career as a full back before converting into a centre half, made his debut in 1999 and went on to lead the club through the most successful period in their history.

He made 663 appearances during 15 illustrious years and won 21 major titles, including six league titles, two Spanish Cups and lifting the Champions League three times.

Puyol was also renowned for his sportsmanship and the respect that he demonstrated towards team mates and opposition alike.

In 2011 he allowed Eric Abidal to lift the Champions League trophy at Wembley after the Frenchman had successfully overcome liver disease to continue his playing career – a touching moment where the captain sacrificed the spotlight for a fellow player.

An extraordinary player and a true legend of the game.

Matthew Le Tissier

The enduring perception of Matthew Le Tissier is one of magic, spectacle, charisma and an unrelenting loyalty to Southampton.

The creative attacker was an enigma that drifted casually between appearing to be a lazy, uninterested player one moment to producing something spectacular the next.

Between making his debut in 1985 and announcing his retirement in 2002 he made 540 appearances for The Saints and scored 209 goals, firmly positioning him as a genuine club legend.

Possibly the most surprising aspect of Le Tissier’s career is that he never showed an interest in leaving the south coast despite attracting the interest of some of the largest clubs in the country.

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Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea were keen to secure the services of the charismatic attacker at different stages during his career but both were ultimately rejected.

However, Le Tissier never lifted any major club honours with Southampton and the common view is that he could have had much greater success at a bigger club – instead he maintained his loyalty and is rightly adored by the club’s supporters.

Jamie Carragher

There is a common perception that Jamie Carragher was not the most technically gifted or proficient player to pull on a Liverpool jersey, yet what he lacked in ability he more than made up for with commitment, determination and application.

The central defender made his debut in 1997 and made 737 appearances in a career that lasted for sixteen years before he announced his retirement in 2013 – only Ian Callaghan has represented The Reds on more occasions.

Whilst he may never have had the opportunity to lift the Premier League title, Carragher was still part of the Liverpool team(s) that won two FA Cups and three League Cups whilst also securing the UEFA Cup in 2001.

However, his crowning achievement was the heroic defensive performance that he produced in the Champions League final in 2005 where Liverpool recovered from three goals down to secure the club’s fifth European title.

Featured Image: All Rights Reserved Don Carbone (Don Carbone)

Article Categories:
AC Milan · Barcelona · Liverpool · Manchester United · Southampton
Martyn Cooke

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

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