World Football

Steven Gerrard and 25 One-Club Men in European Football

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2014

Steven Gerrard and 25 One-Club Men in European Football

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    The one-club man is a dying breed. Less and less frequently do we see players at the elite level serve their entire careers with one senior team, not tempted by their curiosities of whether or not the grass is greener elsewhere.

    There are those loyal bastions who remain rooted to their homes, however, and Steven Gerrard is coming upon his 17th season at Liverpool, 16 years after making his Premier League debut on November 29, 1998.

    There are, of course, those lower down the divisions who see out their days with the same club with whom they began, but here we look at the cream of the European crop.

    Some are considered for the length of time they have played within their respective organisation, while others have been chosen based more on that which they have accomplished during that time.

    Money, silverware prospects and personal sentiment are all major factors in deciding where players decide to play their football these days. However, the following continental stars each stayed true to what they knew with the view to having all that and more.

    Where available, official club websites have provided appearance figures. All other information comes courtesy of Transfermarkt. Academy appearances are not taken into account.

Bob Paisley, Liverpool

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    Career Club Appearances: 253 (league only)

    A one-club man in every definition of the term, Bob Paisley's Liverpool career extended far beyond that of just a player over the course of a 44-year stay with the Reds.

    Picked up as a youngster from Bishop Auckland's youth setup in 1939, Paisley enjoyed 15 years with the Merseysiders for the first course of his stay, making more than 250 appearances and winning one trophy, the 1946-47 First Division.

    Due to the Second World War, this was also the left-half's first full campaign.

    However, his greatest contributions would come after hanging up his boots, when he took up the positions of assistant manager, self-taught physiotherapist and finally managing the side between 1974 and 1983.

    It was under Paisley that Liverpool won six First Division titles, three League Cups, a UEFA Cup and, of course, his crowning achievement of three European Cups.

    To this day, he's one of only two managers to have such success in the continental competition, Carlo Ancelotti being the other man to have won three as a manager.

Jimmy Dickinson, Portsmouth

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Career Club Appearances: 828

    Second in the list for all-time Football League appearances, Jimmy Dickinson's 838 outings for Portsmouth is an incredible record to have amassed over a 19-year span.

    A sensational aspect of the Pompey great's record is also in relation to his knack for fair play, with Portsmouth.co.uk noting that Dickinson "was never spoken to or booked by a referee throughout his whole career."

    That serves as testament to how clinical the left-half was throughout his playing days, and after retiring in 1965, he did so as one of the most respected players ever to turn out for the south coast club, also making 48 England appearances.

Ryan Giggs, Manchester United

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    Career Club Appearances: 963

    A man whose status as Manchester United legend is secured for the ages, Ryan Giggs' 24-year spell as a Manchester United player verges on the ridiculous.

    The 2014-15 Premier League season will be the first not to see the Welshman involved in a playing capacity, with Giggs instead aiding Louis van Gaal as assistant manager at the club, having initially stood as interim manager of United following David Moyes' axing.

    Making his first appearance aged 17, it's no surprise that Sir Alex Ferguson's greatest triumphs as United manager coincided with the rise of this Cardiff-born magician, the two having won 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League crowns and four FA Cups together, along with much, much more.

    Not just one of the faces of Manchester United as an association, Giggs is also a symbol of the Premier League as a more encompassing fraternity.

Paolo Maldini, Milan

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    Career Club Appearances: 902

    Some may see him as the greatest Italian defender of all time, while others might extrapolate those terms even further, but Paolo Maldini's status as a Milan icon is one point not up for debate.

    Born and bred in the shadow of the San Siro, Maldini developed as part of the Milan academy before making his senior bow in the 1984-85 campaign, and it would be a quarter of a century later, in 2009, before his influence ceased.

    The Rossoneri retired their No. 3 jersey in tribute to the versatile left-back, ever ready to put his own body in harm's way for the cause but not often needing to, such was the brand of his genius.

    Turkey's Sait Altinordu is the only man to have played for longer at one club (27 years) than Maldini, but in terms of achieving longevity at the truly elite level, the Italian has no equal.

Packie Bonner, Celtic

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    RONALD ZAK/Associated Press

    Career Club Appearances: 642

    Making the cross from Ireland to Glasgow, as have many memorable figures in Celtic history, Pat "Packie" Bonner signed for the Scottish giants in 1978 and was Jock Stein's last-ever recruit at the club.

    And what an asset the 18-year-old would turn out to be, making 642 appearances for the Bhoys in total, the fifth highest of any player in Celtic history and the highest managed by any native from outside Scotland.

    Bonner's dominance at Parkhead saw him win four Scottish League titles, three Scottish Cups and a Scottish League Cup before he retired in 1998, arguably regarded as the best Celtic goalkeeper of all time.

Jack Charlton, Leeds United

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Career Club Appearances: 774

    Mention the name "Charlton" and many pockets of England might turn to Manchester United legend Bobby, but bring up that name in Yorkshire and it's elder brother Jack who immediately springs to mind.

    Prior to joining Leeds United, the ex-England international was on the verge of joining the police force, and what a loss to the sport he would have been had the club not followed up their interest in his talents as a youngster.

    The centre-back would go on to make 774 total appearances for Leeds and played a big role in the England setup, winning the 1966 World Cup.

    However, Leeds fans will remember him best as the rock who shaped their route to winning a First Division title, the FA Cup, the League Cup and two promotions from the Second Division.

Lev Yashin, Dynamo Moscow

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    Career Club Appearances: 326

    It's difficult to develop a reputation as a "legend," irrespective of the position one plays in, but one might argue that doing so in a role as pressured as a goalkeeper is the most difficult of all.

    But Russia's Lev Yashin is altogether deserving of such commendations, and Dynamo Moscow will hold a specific privilege that it was they who spotted his talents as a youth, born and raised in the nation's capital.

    It's estimated that Yashin saved more than 150 penalties over the course of a 20-year career, 16 of which saw him feature as one of the crown jewels of a Soviet Union team that won gold at the 1956 Olympic Games before claiming the European Championship four years later.

    At club level, the domineering No. 1, playfully referred to as "The Black Spider" thanks to his choice in plain attire, won eight domestic trophies and set a new standard in goalkeeping athleticism.

Paul Scholes, Manchester United

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    Career Club Appearances: 713

    Earning similar honours to Giggs, Paul Scholes is another member of United's infamous "Class of '92" who soared under Ferguson, winning 11 Premier League, three FA Cup and two UEFA Champions League winners medals.

    The former midfielder's tally of 713 appearances for the Red Devils could have been significantly fewer, were it not for his January 2012 decision to reverse his decision to retire six months earlier, adding another season-and-a-half to his record.

    And in a way, this is the factor that best summarises not only the impact Scholes was capable of as a player, even in his twilight years, but also signifies what Manchester United, and Ferguson to an extent, meant to him as a person.

Fritz Szepan, Schalke

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    Szepan (far right)
    Szepan (far right)Associated Press

    Career Club Appearances: 324 (league only)

    The epitome of what it means to be a footballing success without necessarily possessing all the athletic gifts of a natural champion, Fritz Szepan's understanding of the game verged on the prophetic at times.

    Born in Gelsenkirchen, Schalke were fortunate enough to recruit this local lad, who would win six league titles and one German Cup with the club up to and throughout the Second World War.

    Szepan was picked to captain the German national team in 30 of his 34 cap displays, named in the Schalke Team of the Century and widely regarded as one of the club's most talented stars.

Francesco Totti, Roma

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    Career Club Appearances: 702

    Thirty-seven years of age and still going strong, Francesco Totti is the greatest player ever to don the Giallorossi colours and is an ongoing servant to the Roma cause.

    The official AS Roma website describes Totti as "the symbol of the Club," and there's no more apt way of describing the man who holds club records for both appearances made and goals scored.

    Now the only remaining survivor of the Roma squad that finished the 2000-01 campaign as Serie A champions, Totti continues to star as an essential component in Rudi Garcia's side, despite the wealth of young talent that continues to pour through.

    On sevens occasions, the veteran has finished as a runner-up for the Scudetto, coming close on so many occasions, but the 2006 World Cup winner will strive to surmount Juventus' grip on the title this coming season as he heads into battle once again.

Franco Baresi, Milan

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    Career Club Appearances: 719

    Franco Baresi knows what it means to be a world-class centre-back and yet not have to thud one's way around the pitch, his presence in Milan showing that there can be a much more elegant side to the defender's game.

    Where others dealt in brutal hits and hard knocks, the Rossoneri's Player of the Century—elected so in 1999—ran the show with positioning and clam, although he was certainly capable of more thuggish behaviour when required.

    Milan's sweeping maestro made more than 700 appearances for the San Siro outfit, winning every trophy available, including three European Cups, six Serie A titles and the 1982 World Cup triumph with Italy.

Gary Neville, Manchester United

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    Career Club Appearances: 602

    In a team consisting of so many stars, it's an incredible feat that Gary Neville manged to muscle his way into Manchester United's starting XI so young, gaining prominence in 1994, giving Denis Irwin a run for his money at the age of 19.

    Upon arriving at the club as a youngster in 1991, Neville captained the underage group to FA Youth Cup victory, and he'd go on to pick up the senior armband in 2006 upon Roy Keane's departure from the club.

    His contributions down the right flank were devastating at times, and England took note as Neville received 85 international caps, although his truest loyalties were always at club level.

Sir Tom Finney, Preston North End

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    Career Club Appearances: 569

    Footballers don't receive knighthoods for any old occasion, but Sir Tom Finney's commitment to Preston North End, and indeed England, was a marvel to behold, and something that will have assuredly required deep love for his hometown.

    Debuting for Preston North End in 1946, the wing wizard's career was delayed somewhat by the Second World War, but once his story in the English Football League had begun, there was no holding him back.

    It's symbolic that Finney never claimed the greatest prizes in football as a direct result of his unwillingness to leave Preston, twice finishing as First Division runner-up and unsuccessful in the 1954 FA Cup final, yet still voted FWA Footballer of the Year on two occasions.

    Lucrative offers from Italy and elsewhere came in for the wide man's talents, but football clearly meant so much more to Finney than what mere money could muster.

Jamie Carragher, Liverpool

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    Career Club Appearances: 737

    Behind Ian Callaghan, Jamie Carragher is the second-longest serving player Liverpool has ever produced and one of only two ever to break the mark of 700 appearances for the club.

    The defender was vice-captain at the club for 10 of his 26 years at Anfield, and though not often the man grabbing the headlines, his presence in the team's back line got them through a bout of times both good and bad.

    Carragher made his Liverpool debut in 1997, never truly finding a home as others on this list did, dividing his responsibilities between right-back and central defence, as well as some time as a midfield anchor when required.

    When speaking of players so decorated in these terms, one might assume that gifted ability and technical brilliance is a given, but Carragher stands as an example of what graft and determination can do for a career above all else.

Matt Le Tissier, Southampton

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    Career Club Appearances: 540

    Southampton have developed a renown for producing young talent, but before the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Luke Shaw, there was Matt Le Tissier.

    The south coast club fondly refer to their former attacker as "Le God" for his contributions to their plight throughout the late 1980 and 1990s, in which he scored 210 goals before calling it a day in 2002.

    Le Tissier's success didn't come without temptation, either, and it's well-founded that other Premier League big guns attempted their moves for the creative maestro, but he rejected those advances out of love for his Southampton faithful.

Nat Lofthouse, Bolton Wanderers

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    Career Club Appearances: 503

    The goal-every-other-game ratio is a rare and prolific record that countless strikers wish to conjure up in their career, and with 285 scores in 503 appearances for Bolton Wanderers, Nat Lofthouse did that and more.

    In the post-Second World War era, players were substantially encouraged to represent their hometown clubs, and Bolton benefited greatly from Lofthouse's loyalties, with his boot leading them to FA Cup victory in 1958, where he scored twice in a 2-0 win over Manchester United.

    Even more prolific was the forward's scoring record of 30 goals in 33 outings for England, and he was voted English Footballer of the Year in 1953.

Max Morlock, Nurnberg

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    Career Club Appearances: 900+

    Max Morlock's appearance and scoring details are somewhat blurred, but after making his debut for Nurnberg at the age of just 16, a long and active career always seemed likely.

    In 24 years at the top of German football, Morlock was a constant bane to opposition defences, leading Nurnberg to two German league titles, although they were an astonishing 13 years apart (1948 and 1961).

    Twenty-two years after making his league debut, Morlock played a role in the founding season of the Bundesliga in 1964, depicting just how efficiently his talents had been preserved over the course of two-and-a-half decades.

    Even more amazing is that Nurnberg was the only club to benefit from such skills.

     

Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid

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    Career Club Appearances: 689 (league only)

    Without Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid quite simply wouldn't be the force they are today, and although his management credentials are what make that so, his input as a player for Los Merengues isn't to go understated.

    Bernabeu joined the club in 1909 as a 14-year-old, going on to captain the team for whom he bagged more than 340 goals in a 15-year playing career.

    After retiring, the Madrid veteran managed the club for five years before taking up his most well-chronicled position as president, where he would remain for 35 years.

    During his time in that position, Real won six European Cups, 16 league titles, six Spanish Cups and the Intercontinental Cup.

Lars Hogh, Odense

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    Career Club Appearances: 817 (league only)

    While Peter Schmeichel may be known as the Danish stopper who most notably headed for the bright lights of Manchester in his playing days, Lars Hogh spent his entire career in his native land with Odense.

    And the Denmark population are undoubtedly grateful to the man who stood guard in their goal for the 1986 World Cup, where they made a run to the quarter-finals before exiting at the hands of Spain.

    Hogh was elected Danish Goalkeeper of the Year on five occasions over an eight-year span, winning six domestic trophies with Odense, and although Schmeichel's accomplishments would eventually eclipse his own, Hogh's loyalty was unshakeable.

Frantisek Planicka, Slavia Prague

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    Planicka (far right)
    Planicka (far right)Anonymous/Associated Press

    Career Club Appearances: 989 (league only)

    No, you didn't read that wrong—Slavia Prague's Frantisek Planicka turned out for the club on 989 occasions in league competition alone, his other statistics becoming hazier in any available archives.

    Easily identifiable as a goalkeeper of genuine class, his reflexes earned him the moniker of "The Cat of Prague," and his instinct in goal saw him captain Czechoslovakia through both 1934 and 1938 World Cup tournaments.

    The Prague native's career was a fairly short one when compared with others on our list, Planicka making his club debut in 1923 and retiring 16 years later.

    However, there's no denying that the stopper made extremely efficient use of his time at the top.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bayern Munich

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Career Club Appearances: 474

    Never the most glamorous figure, nor the one who's always grabbed the glory at Bayern Munich, but mention the thought of an instrumental player at the Allianz Arena and Bastian Schweinsteiger instantly springs to mind.

    Schweinsteiger was just 13 years old when he first came to Der FCB, eventually making his debut during a Champions League defeat of Lens in November 2002 and signing his first professional contract at 18.

    Schweinsteiger's versatility and willingness to fill in wherever he's needed most has helped him to become one of the organisation's most beloved stars, playing across the midfield and occupying roles in defence on numerous, more desperate occasions.

    As a result, the puppeteer's personal ambitions maybe haven't been realised to the same extent as he might have dreamed, but the essential thing is that the team's has, and that's what makes him great.

    His prominence with Bayern has also seen Schweinsteiger earn stellar honours with the German national team, and this summer saw a World Cup added to his cabinet. This already houses winners' medals from the Champions League, Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, FIFA Club World Cup and more.

Carles Puyol, Barcelona

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    Career Club Appearances: 593

    If there were one former player whom Barcelona might wish to see returned to their current side in his prime, Carles Puyol might be the most intelligent decision, the kind of defensive rock that they're currently lacking in excess.

    The centre-back spent 10 of his 15 years as a senior Camp Nou star in the captaincy, and no matter the other superstar talents that came and went down the years, there was no arguing over who deserved the armband most.

    Having first joined La Blaugrana as a youth in 1995, Puyol would go on to win 21 trophies at the forefront of the Catalan giants' line-up, and were it not for a series of debilitating knee injuries, there could have been many more.

Tony Adams, Arsenal

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    Career Club Appearances: 672

    "Mr Arsenal" himself, Tony Adams has established icon status in north London for good reason, winning four top-flight trophies, three FA Cups and two League Cups during his 19 years as a Gunner.

    And how apt it is that Adams' playing career should have ended with the historic double-winning season of 2001-02, the defender bowing out on the high that he deserved.

    In 2011, Adams was one of three club greats to have a statue unveiled outside the Emirates for their services to Arsenal, a constant reminder of how influential his no-nonsense attitude was for their cause.

Sepp Maier, Bayern Munich

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    Career Club Appearances: 473 (league only)

    No Bayern Munich player has made more Bundesliga appearances than Sepp Maier, the man who stood guard in goal for arguably the greatest Bayern line-up of all time.

    Alongside the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller, Maier won three consecutive European Cups and crafted a dynasty at the club, first joining a teenager in 1959 and retiring 20 years later.

    The only thing more impressive than the acrobatic exploits shown by "the Cat from Anzing" was the consistency he displayed, playing in 442 consecutive Bundesliga matches and pushing Der FCB to glory.

Bill Foulkes, Manchester United

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    Foulkes (third from right)
    Foulkes (third from right)Uncredited/Associated Press

    Career Club Appearances: 688

    In the fallout of the Munich Air Disaster, Manchester United could have easily fallen into a more desperate state of crisis were it not for the impact of survivor Bill Foulkes.

    Falling into line with Matt Busby's policy in handing youngsters their chances early on, Foulkes was signed at the age of 18 and quickly became a staple at centre-back, pioneering the side's defence throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

    Following the disaster of 1958, he would play a major hand in leading United to their 1968 European Cup triumph, the coming full circle of a side who had experienced tragedy and been revived by their stars.

Steven Gerrard, Liverpool

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    Career Club Appearances: 669

    Any success that Liverpool have come upon during the last 15 years of their history, Steven Gerrard has been at the forefront of their cause, leading the team whether there wearing the captain's armband or not.

    In 669 appearances for the Reds, Gerrard has scored 173 goals and established himself as one of the most rounded midfielders of the club's history, and the emotional ties he has to Anfield are evident every time he pulls on Liverpool colours.

    Joining the club at the age of nine, the 34-year-old has taken his side to the heights of their 2005 Champions League win in Istanbul, never losing faith in the cause even when times have been at their toughest in recent years.

    Managers have come and gone, but Gerrard has remained, and if ever a guiding light is needed in the gloom, he's still the most likely source to provide it.

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