There are many journeymen around in the game at the moment, moving from club A to club B with ease both financially and physically. But what about those who have committed years to the club they love?
The likes of Ryan Giggs of Manchester United, Lars Ricken of Borussia Dortmund and Francesco Totti of Roma are long retired however some one-club men still remain. Let’s take a look.
Honourable mentions: (first year at the club)
Ander Iturraspe (2007)
Xabi Prieto – Real Sociedad (2003)
Andy King – Leicester City (2006)
Olivier Deschacht – Anderlecht (2001)
Itumeleng Khune – Kaizer Chiefs (2004)
Alberto Lora – Sporting Gijón (2006)
10. Igor Akinfeev – CSKA Moscow (2003)
Yes, the incredible 50 game-long lack of a clean sheet record will always be against him, but the 103 caps for Russia and honour of captaining the Militarians is enough to prove the ‘keepers worth. Touted to be world class in his youth days, the potential had unfortunately not yet been fulfilled. At 31 and likely in goal during the host’s forthcoming World Cup campaign, there’s a slight chance his career could undergo a renaissance period.
9. Markel Susaeta – Athletic Bilbao (2007)
Like many of the current crop in the highly traditionally focussed club, the winger has been at the club all of his career due to Basque origin. He has represented the state 7 times too. Although not the fanciest, his direct ability on the right wing has allowed him to give full backs nightmares on numerous occasions whilst giving his all for his club.
8. Loïc Perrin – Saint-Étienne (2003)
Since growing up in the French city and being picked up by their club’s academy, the fairly small centre back has excelled at club level. Despite not earning a cap for his national side and only winning one major trophy thus far, his reliability is what has kept him around at the top for so long. He may be 32 and slowing down, but he certainly knows how to get things done at the club he loves.
7. Rui Patrício – Sporting CP (2006)
The main-stay stopper for Portuguese national team has made his mark in many tournaments over the years but his success in domestic football over 12 seasons with the Lions is often overshadowed by his International heroics. Rumoured to leave every summer, the dedication to helping his Primeira Liga side to stay strong is a testament to him. With many years left between the posts, he looks as settled as ever.
6. Bruno Soriano – Villareal (2006)
As a player who lacks flashy qualities, it’s not exactly hard to forget the industrious deep-lying play-maker. Representing his national team, Spain, at EURO 2016 is arguably his career highlight but as a stalwart in a club that has certainly had turbulent times as of late deserves tremendous praise. Still going at 33, the simplistic yet brilliant player from The Yellow Submarine’s youth academy will soon be rewarded for all his efforts as retirement looms.
5. Jesse Lingard – Manchester United (2011)
Playing for the club your supported as a child is a dream come true in itself, but scoring screamers and slotting home in cup finals really is the stuff of magic. The late bloomer has evolved over the years and now looks as if he’s one of England’s finest talents. His work rate and ability to pledge himself to the club he loves should never go unnoticed.
4. Daniele De Rossi – Roma (2001)
One of the game’s only remaining few ‘hard men’, the bearded Italian – like Totti – has served his capital’s club with pride since childhood. The rough and tumble nature of his play may not be as easy on the eye as likes of Andrea Pirlo, but his effectiveness in big games cannot be overstated. Slightly dwindling nowadays, no one can forget his allegiance to the cause when other clubs came looking for his services.
3. Sergio Busquets – Barcelona (2008)
The true footballing love of Pep Guardiola, the ever-reliable holding man has subtly transformed the game. Being one of the first cool, calm and collected holding men to consistently play so elegantly simple in the role, whilst orchestrating games from deep in a complex team, has meant the lack of praise he gets seem criminal. There may never again be someone like the Spaniard to hold together a team so well for so long.
2. Andrés Iniesta – Barcelona (2002)
Another from the world dominating club, this 4 time Champions League winner is arguably one of the game’s finest ever play-makers. His exquisite technique all over the park in a plethora of positions has been a feature through his career – grabbing assists left, right and centre. Still going strong at 33 years-old, his legacy will never age.
1. Lionel Messi – Barcelona (2004)
It just had to be. Arguably the greatest man to kick a football of all time, the unbelievable Argentine has been at Barcelona since the age of 13 and appeared for the Catalan club over 600 times. At 30 years-old, there’s surely more time left to keep stunning the football world.
Are there any other players who deserved to make the list? Let us know below.