A incredible day in the transfer market yesterday saw two of football’s most iconic figures forfeit their status as one-club men. Bastian Schweinsteiger traded Bavarian superpower Bayern Munich for a resurgent Man United while former Real Madrid skipper Iker Casillas left the capital of Spain to join Portuguese giants Porto. The departure of two of the games most loyal stalwarts tops of a year which has perhaps proven that the one-club man truly dying breed, with no fewer than seven of their contempories also choosing to turn away from their monogamous careers:
1. Darren Fletcher
Scottish international Darren Fletcher joined Man United as an 11-year way back in 1995. During his time with the Red Devils, Fletcher lifted four Premier League titles, the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup, making 324 appearances across all competitions along the way. Fletcher’s 20-year affiliation with the club came to an end on February 2nd when he joined fellow Premier League side West Brom on a free transfer.
2. Victor Valdes
Victor Valdes technically left Barcelona at the end of the 2013-14 season but it wasn’t until January that his status as a one club man was truly broken. Having been a free agent since his contract expired in July last year, Valdes opted to sign for Man United where he reunite with manager Louis van Gaal. Fast forward 6 months and the Spanish ‘keeper’s decision has rewarded him with just 2 appearances at Old Trafford.
3. Steven Gerrard
Captain Fantastic. Few players, if any, have been as symbolic of a club’s identity as Steven Gerrard. It comes as no surprise then that supporters of Liverpool and indeed the footballing world as a collective were left stunned when Stevie G announced that he would be joining MLS side LA Galaxy next season. Gerrard amassed an incredible 707 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 186 goals in the process and captained the Reds to iconic victories in the FA Cup and Champions League .
What Steven Gerrard was to Liverpool, Xavi was to Barcelona. The legendary home-grown midfielder broke Catalan hearts when he confirmed that he would be leaving the club to join Qatari side Al-Sadd at the end of the season. Xavi was an instrumental figure in the most successful period in Barcelona’s hiistory, guiding the club to 8 La Liga crowns and 3 Champions League titles in his 24-year spell at the Nou Camp.
5. Sven Ulreich
At 26-years old, goalkeeper Sven Ulreich is youngest player on the list. Having joined Stuttgart in 1998, Ulreich had spent 17 years at the club and looked set to one day join the ranks of the legendary one club men. That all changed when Bayern Munich swooped in and signed him last
month to serve as back up at the club to Germany’s number 1, Manuel Neuer.
6. Andoni Iraola
Spanish international Andoni Iraola joined Athletic Bilbao in back 1999. The right back made over 500 appearances for the Basque club during that period, earning runners-up medals in the Copa Del Rey (three times) and in the Europa League. Iraola parted with ways with Athletic at the end of last season to join up with MLS newcomers New York City.
7. Itumeleng Khune
South African goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune ia perhaps the most inconspicuous name on the list but with over 200 appearances for local side Kaizer Chiefs, with whom he was captain, he has earned his spot on this list. The 28-year old spent 16 years with the Soweto giants before allowing his contract to run down at the end of last season. He is still without a club.
8. Bastian Schweinsteiger
The aforementioned Schweinsteiger finally completed his move to Manchester United yesterday after months of rumours linking him with the club. Schweinsteiger, who turns 31 next month, joined Bayern in 1998 and made exactly 500 appearances for them across all competitions. The legendary German achieved incredible success in Munich, winning the Bundesliga 8 times and the Champions League once. The World Cup winner also has 7 DFB-Pokal titles to his name.
9. Iker Casillas
Much like with Raúl before him, there was to be no fairytale ending to Iker Casillas’ career at Real Madrid. The legendary goalkeeper’s fall from Galactico grace was confirmed yesterday when the club announced that he had agreed to join Porto. It’s impossible to fully reflect on the contribution Casillas made to Real Madrid so we’ll let the stats do the talking. 25 years. 725 appearances. 5 La Liga crowns. 3 Champions League titles. 1 legend.
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