Five of football’s long-term elite

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Football News

Francesco Totti made his Serie A debut 20 years ago today and his has been a career spent almost exclusively at the top of the game.

AS Roma fans voted him the club’s best ever a player, he has made more appearances for them than any other player and he is the all-time leading goalscorer.

Totti has scored some great goals through the years and put in some memorable performances but hasn’t always been part of great teams.

GiveMeFootball fully expect the 36-year-old to retire having only ever played for the Giallorossi and this got us thinking.

It is difficult enough for players to play that long, never mind to do so at the highest level and for the very best clubs.

GMF decided to pick out five others that have played at the top for the entirety of their careers or are destined to, produced a high level of performance each year and have stayed at top clubs.

We wanted players that have always played for the best teams in the world and never accepted anything less by dropping down the leagues or playing for lesser clubs, as well as predicting current stars that would never accept anything other than the highest level.

Here they are:

Dennis Bergkamp

Starting out at Ajax is an impressive start to a career as only the very best young players make it through the ranks at the Amsterdam Arena. Bergkamp quickly became a prominent member of the team and collected five major trophies while there.

A move to Inter Milan did not produce the happiness he expected but the Holland international did win a UEFA Cup while he was there.

Arsenal rescued him from the San Siro and, after a slow start, set off on one of the most successful careers in the Premier League with three titles and four FA Cups.

Ruud Gullit

The Holland legend’s retirement meant Chelsea became the first team he was able to manage and he lead them to an FA Cup triumph in the season he was player-manager.

Gullit was destined for the top from the beginning when he came through the ranks at Haarlem as a 17-year-old and quickly earned a move to Feyenoord before going on to PSV Eindhoven.

He also played for AC Milan and Sampdoria before Chelsea, in a career where he accrued 18 major trophies – including the 1988 European Championships with Holland and back-to-back European Cups with Milan.

Gullit’s list individual awards is also highly impressive: two-time Dutch player of the year, Ballon d’Or winner and two-time World Soccer World Player of the Year are the most prestigious.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

We know Zlatan hasn’t retired yet but can you imagine him playing for a lesser club when he really starts getting near the end of his career? No, us neither. 

The Sweden international won a league title every season he played from 2001-2011 and looks set to resume this run after a year break as PSG are top of Ligue 1 by five points with only nine games to go.

The investment from Qatar has seen the club from the French capital flood their squad with top quality players and they have a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona coming up.

AC Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan, Ajax and Barcelona are teams that only the best players can play for and GMF fully expects Ibrahimovic to find another top club once his time in Paris is over.


Injuries ravaged much of his career but his talent and effectiveness meant he never played for a club that could not be considered one of the best in the world.

World player of the year, Ballon d’Or (twice), World Cup winner, UEFA Cup winner, UEFA Champions League winner, World Cup golden boot winner, Copa America winner – the list goes on.

Even when his knees had given out and his weight was a problem he couldn’t keep under control, Ronaldo still posed a threat to defences and scored goals fro every team he ever played for right up until retirement at Brazil giants Corinthians.

Ryan Giggs

Another one-year contract signed this year to prolong his career for a 23rd season at Manchester United.

Giggs is the most decorated player in British football history and has adapted his game perfectly as his physical attributes have changed through the years.

Form his debut and taking the Premier League by storm as a speedy dribbling winger, to starting in a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid at the age of 39 in the centre, he has always produced the goods.

Giggs has always upheld the highest standards throughout his career and there is no chance he will step down a level before retirement – the Welshman will retire at the top with his reputation intact as one of the greatest.

Which players do you think will retire at the top? Leave a comment below to let us know… 

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE:

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