Football

Top 10: One club men of the modern era

Maldini is an AC Milan legend. (©GettyImages)
Maldini is an AC Milan legend. (©GettyImages).

A look at 10 of the greatest one club men of the modern era.

10. PAUL SCHOLES - Manchester United

The 38-year-old central midfielder made his debut for Manchester United in 1993 and went on to become a club legend. He won ten Premier League titles, two European cups and many other accolades.

Praised by peers and coaches for his vision, passing and goalscoring abilities, Scholes was just one of a crop of young talent to flourish under Sir Alex Ferguson's tutelage. That core group of academy graduates did exceptionally well in youth competitions and have been central to United’s title success.

The talented Englishman is said to be one of the best central midfielders of his era. Retired in 2011, Scholes came back to help steady a fragile midfield and agreed to stay on one more year.

9. CARLES PUYOL - FC Barcelona

The 34-year-old Spanish central-defender has won it all with club and country.

In 1995, he joined La Masia, the youth system of Barca, and in 1999 he made his Barcelona debut. Puyol gained the captain’s armband in the year 2004 and still wears it with pride.

With Barcelona, he has won five La Liga titles and has three Champions League trophies to his name. With Spain, Puyol has won the European Championship twice and also the coveted World Cup gold.

8. JAMIE CARRAGHER - Liverpool

The Liverpool legend made his debut in 1996 at the age of 18.

Rising through the club’s youth and reserve ranks, vice-captain Carragher has made over 700 appearances for the club and is one of the club's longest-serving players.

When asked if he ever considered a move to another club, the surprised centre-half famously replied: "Who’s bigger than Liverpool?"

7. LIONEL MESSI - FC Barcelona

The four time Ballon d’Or winner was brought to La Masia when he was just 13-years-old.

He made his Barcelona debut in 2004 under coach Frank Rijkaard. Regarded as one of the best players ever, Messi has already achieved the status of a legend by winning almost all the accolades for Barca and himself.

Messi reportedly turned down a move to Anzhi Makhachkala following the Russian club's £205 million offer that triggered the Argentine's release-clause.

6. TONY ADAMS - Arsenal

Adams signed for Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1980.

He made his first-team debut in 1983. In 1988, he became Arsenal captain at the age of 21 and remained club captain for the next 14 years until his retirement.

Nicknamed 'Mr. Arsenal', Adams was part of the 'famous four' that lined up in Arsenal’s defence and were renowned for the disciplined use of the off-side trap.

A statue of Adams was placed outside Emirates Stadium in celebration of the club's 125th anniversary in 2011, in recognition of his tremendous service to the club.

5. IKER CASILLAS - Real Madrid

Iker Casillas’ relationship with Real Madrid dates back to 1990, the same year he began working his way up through the ranks until finally earning a starting role with the first-team in 1999.

He is the most successful captain in the history of Spain with two European Cups and a World Cup. The Spanish goalkeeper has won many titles for Real Madrid too and is regarded as the best Spanish goalkeeper ever.

4. FRANCESCO TOTTI - AS Roma

Totti made his Roma debut at the tender age of 16 in 1993.

Totti is the Gialorossi’s most capped player and their leading goalscorer. The 2006 World Cup winner is the captain of the Italian giants and is considered as the greatest ever player to wear Roma’s uniform.

Now at 35, he’s under contract until mid-2014, but that’s merely a formality. Roma and Totti are the two sides of the same coin.

3. STEVEN GERRARD - Liverpool

Liverpool are represented by two of their greatest players.

Voted as the club’s greatest player after Kenny Dalglish, the 31-year-old all-round midfielder is loved by the club's fans.

Gerrard made his Anfield debut in 1998 and was given the captain’s armband in 2003. He lead the team to a mind-blowing victory in the 2005 Champions League final, in which they were trailing by three goals at half-time.

Gerrard has been eyed by many top clubs in Europe but he never gave in to the temptation. Captain of club and country, Gerrard is best described as a real leader of men and a tireless runner with superb vision. His striking from distance is feared around the world and he is a prolific scorer for a midfielder.

2. RYAN GIGGS - Manchester United

Ryan Giggs made his Manchester United debut in 1990. Miraculous. Magnificent. Majestic. Or simply . . . Ryan Giggs.

The list of adjectives is perhaps not long, not rich enough to describe what the Welsh prodigy means to his country, to Manchester United, to football itself. And at 38 he’s still going strong.

The most capped player in the history of Manchester United, the Welshman has won an unbelievable 12 Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues. Every colleague, coach and opponent holds him in regards. He has definitely booked his place in the history books as one of the best wingers ever.

1. PAOLO MALDINI - AC Milan

The name 'Maldini' was hardly an unknown one when 16-year-old Paolo made his debut for Milan back in 1985. Similarly to Giggs, it didn’t take an awful long time before Maldini was a valued member of the first-team squad.

Maldini was incredibly adaptable. Arguably the greatest left-back of all times. In addition to being an incredible player, he is an incredible man. He is hugely respected by all, even Inter Milan fans who unveiled a banner showing their respect for him in his final derby game, a rare occurrence.

He was widely viewed as true leader, and was, therefore, nicknamed Il Capitano. Over the course of his 25-year long career, the Italian won seven league titles and 5 European Cups with AC Milan.
 



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