Who’s the best one-club player?

December 4, 2008

One-club players are rare and precious.

The likes of Paolo Maldini, Raul, Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes might be handsomely paid by their clubs, but the fact they have spurned chances to get even richer elsewhere suggests they share at least some of the fans’ devotion to the colours they wear.

Inter Milan’s Patrick Vieira recognised this recently when talking about his former Juventus team mate Alessandro Del Piero.

“What I like about him, and envy a little, is that he has played all his career for the same team and won everything with that team,” Vieira told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Indeed, Del Piero has a good claim to being the world’s top one-club man.

Five Serie A titles and a Champions League are part of the 34-year-old’s trophy haul at Juventus. He also holds the Turin club’s record for appearances and goals — he netted his 250th for Juve in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Reggina.

AC Milan’s Maldini has more Serie A and Italy appearances than Del Piero, Real Madrid’s Raul has scored more European goals and both have won more Champions Leagues, as have Scholes and his Manchester United team mate Ryan Giggs.

Del Piero probably trumps them all though because he has a World Cup-winner’s medal in his cabinet.

What’s more, Del Piero gets bonus club-loyalty points because he stuck with Juve when they were relegated for match-fixing in 2006, scoring 21 goals to help them to immediate promotion and finding the net as many times last season to fire them to a third-place finish on their return to the top flight.

Sticklers might argue that, strictly speaking, Del Piero is not a one-club man. He also played for Padova in Serie B before joining Juve in 1993, but I think it would be churlish to count a few seasons outside the big time when he was a teenager (if you’re too rigid Raul would fail the one-club test too as he played for Atletico Madrid’s academy before it was closed and he moved across town).

Nevertheless, my vote does not go to Alex but to another 2006 World Cup winner, AS Roma’s Francesco Totti.

Del Piero is a wonderful player but he has a tendency to blow hot and cold, while Totti has consistently been excellent in Serie A when fit.

And, unlike the other footballers I’ve mentioned, Totti did not have the fortune to start his career at a club regularly vying for domestic and European trophies.

He has less honours to his name, but only because he stayed true to Roma rather than succumbing to the courtship of clubs such as Real and Milan. In my book that sacrifice more than makes up for the European club trophy missing from his CV.

And if Roma are now a force to be reckoned with outside Italy, Totti deserves a large slice of the credit.

What do you think? Who would you give the top one-club player award to? Is there anyone I have overlooked altogether who’s more worthy?

PHOTO: Juve’s Alessandro Del Piero celebrates after scoring as AS Roma’s Francesco Totti watches during their Serie A match in Turin Feb. 16, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi

35 comments

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Del Piero gets my vote as well. Not only did he go down to Serie B with Juve. He also improved his game when returning. What he now lacks in speed he makes up for with his other abilities. Forza Alex!!

Posted by Nick | Report as abusive

I would have to go with Francesco Totti. The fact that he stayed with AS ROMA and making them a major team in Seria A, that alone gives him my regards.

Posted by Tahaa | Report as abusive

[...] Reuters Soccer Blog » Blog Archive » Who’s the best one-club player? | Blogs | Maldini, Raul, Gerrard, Scholes, Vieira, Del Piero oder Totti? (tags: international italien england spanien) [...]

Yeah I think Del Piero is a mint a player!!

Think he will win!!!

Well Del piero and Totti…Del piero because he didn’t leave the club when they relegated to Serie B and Totti because he sticked to the Roma and Roma is not a Big Team.

Posted by Mr. McMazeh | Report as abusive

[...] to Source Share and [...]

He scores goooaaalllsss. Paul Schooooles, he scores gooaalllsss!!! Had it not been for Pauley, United may have not made it to Moscow last year (United vs. Barcelona ring a bell???). He’s our man. Hey may not be the best compared to Raul & Del Piero, but with a ton of domestic titles, FA Cups, & two European Cups to boot, he’s definitely etched his name in United folklore.

Posted by Darren | Report as abusive

Has to be Stevie G. Simply because he ain’t only a one club man, Liverpool have been a one man club almost since he started playing regularly.

Posted by Steve B | Report as abusive

I really cant choose because i have 3 men in mind and they are all great footballers and are all one club men. Totti, Del Peiro, and Giggs. Totti because he stuck with AS Roma even though they werent a bib club back in the day / now they are because of him. Del Peiro for not leaving the club after getting relegated when he could have easily went anywhere else. And Giggs for sticking it out with Man Utd all those yrs.

jamie carragher gets my vote by miles,cmon prove me wrong

MY VOTE HAS TO GO TO THE ONE AND ONLY RONALDO

HE IS MAN UTD THROUGH AND THROUGH NO MATTER WHAT CRAP THE PAPERS PRINT

YOU CANT TAKE IT FROM HIM HE IS THE WORLDS MOST TALENTED PLAYER AND EVEN GOOD OLD PELE SAYS SO HIMSELF

Posted by RON | Report as abusive

Tony Adams!

Posted by mark h | Report as abusive

ERIC CANTONA!

Cantona was for Auxerre, Martigues, Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nîmes, Leeds et Man Utd…..John Terry in some time.

Posted by Claude | Report as abusive

Cantona played for a lot of clubs.

Has to be Scholes, ran that midfield along with Keano and still does when fit. Always a model pro, quite and unassuming off the pitch and never one to look for money or fame. He even hung up his England boots earl for United. Then of course the goal against Barca… can still point out my seat where I saw that from.

There’s a reason Rooney said he’s the best player he’s ever played with….he.s pure quality.

Posted by Daryk | Report as abusive

Oh and Carragher?? Gary Neville in this category over him any day, Gary’s also got a lot more medals to show as well.

Posted by Daryl | Report as abusive

My vote would always go to former Gunner, Dennis Bergkamp. Del Piero, Totti, Stevie G, Carragher et all are good no doubt, but Bergkamp would win by miles.

Posted by Nachiket | Report as abusive

Real Madrid’s Raul started in the Atletico Madrid youth teams but when they were shut down joined Real’s youth set up and went on debut with them at 17.
Now captain, he’s still plugging away at 31 with 3 European Cups, and 6 league titles under belt. That’s tough to beat.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Nachiket,
I don’t think we can count Bergkamp as a one-club player, although I like him too. He also played for Ajax and Inter Milan before his long, prolific stint at Arsenal.

Posted by Paul Virgo | Report as abusive

My vote goes to steven gerrad because he achieved all troophy with lfc except epl troophy.so he deserve the award

I think Totti is better. talent wise and also personal achievement wise. as i have read before he is the calcio-all-time top scorer among the players that are still playin’. Plus the fact that he has rejected many offers from bigger teams but chose to continue with his childhood.

Sao Paulo goalkeeper and captain Rogerio Ceni at least deserves a mention here. He has 16 had seasons at the club, winning the Brazilian championship, Libertadores Cup and World Club championship and has scored 83 goals from penalties and free kicks, making him the game’s highest-scoring keeper.

Posted by Brian Homewood | Report as abusive

I’d give it to Paolo Maldini just for the sheer number of years he’s been at the club. I mean, he *litterally* grew up in the AC Milan youth system: he’s been at the club since 1978. That’s over 30 years!!!!! And he’s turned into a real legend, both on and off the pitch.

TOTTI TOTTI TOTTI TOTTI TOTTI TOTTI TOTTI TOTTI TOTTI

Posted by MARCO | Report as abusive

Ryan Giggs. Lived in Manchester since he was 6. Signed for the United’s youth club when he was 14. Debuted 90-91, before Ferguson’s team started dominating.

His haul.

10 domestic league titles
4 FA Cup winners medals
2 FA League Cup winners medals
2 Champions League winners medals
1 Intercontinental Cup winners medal

Giggs joins Best in being the greatest players never to compete in the World Cup finals.

Posted by Andersen | Report as abusive

I think it would be between P.Scholes ,Maldini,Ryan Giggs and Del Piero – I Think the former three would be stronger candidates ,but mostly i take my hat off to Pauly as he has played and represented Man.U in such a loyal way that we barely saw any offers for him over the years.When players put on a jersey ,and take it off in such a way that makes a statement to the world,that ”dont even bother charming me up’ ,i think that is valuable to a club.Reliability is certainly hard to come by.Maldini and Giggsy arent far off from Pauly and could very well be placed in the same catagory ,,but Del.P had looked at other oppertnuities and there after chose to stay on,which every player has the right to.However keeping buyers at bay by mere conduct and performance has got to earn one the most praise-Well done to the Trio!!!

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

MALDINI

Posted by Santi | Report as abusive

RAUL is that one

Posted by salma | Report as abusive

C’mon people, how hard is it to win trophies at ManU if you are there for 15+ years? Or in Milan? You only know Roma because of Totti, and he had some seriously lean years when he probably SHOULD have gone elsewhere. ManU and Milan can always afford to pay you.

Posted by wacokid | Report as abusive

Paolo Maldini

Posted by vava | Report as abusive

Not Totti.

Every other summer he made hints about leaving Roma or even raised the possibility outright in the papers. That’s not what a loyal one-club man does.

There were never reports of any serious bids for Totti – Roma always paid him plenty more than the rest of the players to make sure he wasn’t tempted though.

There is only one choice – Paolo Maldini. Won everything, behaved like a gent throughout, never blackmailed his club or turned against a coach in public. A true club man and also the best defender in the world over the past 20 years.

Posted by Simon Evans | Report as abusive

John Terry, ’nuff said.

Posted by The Angry Intern | Report as abusive

I agree, Simon, that the fact that Maldini has been such a gent as well as one of the all-time great defenders makes him a strong candidate.
Totti certainly does not have the same spotless record and he’ll be remembered by many for the spitting incident at Euro 2004.
And you’re right that he has hinted about moving on from time to time. But I think the odd moment of weakness is forgivable given that Roma have had plenty of ups and downs and Totti was and is good enough to play for a bigger club.
Maybe it was easier for Maldini because Milan have been winning trophies regularly since he started playing. Totti and Del Piero, on the other hand, made career sacrifices to stay with their teams.

Posted by Paul Virgo | Report as abusive

Neil Kennedy for Histon – 10 years, helped with 5 promotions, (no relegations) and 302 goals in that time – completely unmatched anywhere i believe.

Posted by Stuart | Report as abusive

i’m surprised noboby hs mentioned the one and only edson arantes donascimento – PELE.

Posted by chiku mtegha | Report as abusive

[...] the history between Barca-Real and Juve-Milan is the players on show. As Paul Virgo pointed out in a recent blog, these four sides are the home of the one-club player. Raul, Puyol, Xavi, Maldini and Del [...]

[...] the history between Barca-Real and Juve-Milan is the players on show. As Paul Virgo pointed out in a recent blog, these four sides are the home of the one-club player. Raul, Puyol, Xavi, Maldini and Del [...]

[...] the history between Barca-Real and Juve-Milan is the players on show. As Paul Virgo pointed out in a recent blog, these four sides are the home of the one-club player. Raul, Puyol, Xavi, Maldini and Del [...]

maldini..900 caps for rossoneri.

Posted by faris | Report as abusive

del piero the best player in the world. Del Piero Numero Uno. Pastino

http://facemien.com/

Posted by siuma | Report as abusive