World XI: One-club men

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Football News

One-club men are the most revered people in the footballing world.

Sadly, though, they are a rare breed in football, with only a few players ever carrying on playing for a single club throughout their careers.

However, a look at some of the all time greats who have remained loyal to a single club proves that some - probably the best of them - stick it out with the club that they love.

For the purposes of this team, only players who have completed 10 professional seasons with their respective clubs have been considered.

Here's a look at who enter our greatest XI of one-club men in football.

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas | Real Madrid

To select a 'keeper was a difficult choice, with a few standout performers throughout the years. But Casillas pips the others due to the success that his teams have achieved over the years.

Breaking through into the first team at the young age of 20, Casillas has firmly cemented his place in Real Madrid folklore. Over the years, Casillas has been the capital club's best and most consistent performer.

Captaining Spain to two European Championships and a World Cup win prove that this Real Madrid legend is indeed worthy of the crown.

Notable mentions: Lev Yashin (Dynamo Moscow), Sepp Maier (Bayern Munich), Victor Valdes (FC Barcelona), Rogerio Ceni (Sao Paulo FC)

Left-back: Paolo Maldini | AC Milan

Son of Milan legend Cesare, Paolo Maldini initially was recognised as Cesare's son. However, the legacy created by Paolo was such that, towards the end of his career, Cesare was identified through his son.

Breaking into the first team at in 1985 at the age of 17, Maldini played all his 25 seasons for the Rossoneri. During this period he helped Milan win seven Serie A titles and five Champions League crowns.

He also helped Italy to the finals of the 1994 World Cup and the 2000 European Championships - the latter as captain. His service to the club was recognised when, upon his retirement, Milan retired the No. 3 shirt that used to be worn by the club legend.

Notable Mentions: Giacinto Facchetti (Inter Milan), Nilson Santos (Botafogo)

Centre-back: Franco Baresi | AC Milan

Another great Milan defender finds a spot on this list in the form of Franco Baresi. The Italian was a rock in the centre of defence for the Rossoneri for 20 years.

Playing as a classical sweeper, he helped Milan to six Serie A titles and three Champions League crowns. He also left his mark on the national team, by helping them to the 1982 World Cup title and 1994 finals. As a mark of respect, Milan retired his No. 6 jersey upon his retirement in 1997.

Centre-back: Billy Wright | Wolverhampton Wanderers

Partnering Baresi in the centre of defence is England legend Billy Wright. The first player ever to reach 100 caps in international football, Wright captained Wolves to three First Division titles and an FA Cup win.

He also holds the record for the longest unbroken run playing in international matches, and captained England in their campaigns at the 1950, 1954 and 1958 World Cups. The best player in their history, Wolves have both built a statue of him outside the Molineux and named a stand after him in their stadium.

Notable Mentions: Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona), Tony Adams (Arsenal), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Hans-Georg Scwarzenbeck (Bayern Munich), Albert Shesternyov (CSKA Moscow), Billy McNeill (Celtic), Giuseppe Bergomi (Inter Milan) Jack Charlton (Leeds United)

Right-back: Berti Vogts | Borussia Moenchengladbach

Germany legend Berti Vogts takes the right-back spot. Playing his entire career for Borussia Moenchengladbach, he was one of the key figures in the side that won the Bundesliga five times and the UEFA Cup twice.

He also starred for Germany, helping them to the 1972 European Championship and 1974 World Cup titles. He also found himself a spot in the team of the tournament in both the 1974 and the 1978 World Cups.

Vogts would later prove to be an able manager as well, coaching Germany to the Euro '96 title.

Notable mentions: Gary Neville (Manchester United), Jimmy Armfield (Blackpool)

Left-wing: Ryan Giggs | Manchester United

Breaking through into the Manchester United first team in 1990, at the age of 17, Giggs was a regular feature from the 1991/92 season onwards.

The Red Devils' record appearance holder helped his team to a whopping 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League titles among other accolades.

Even though he made his name playing as a winger, Giggs has also shown versatility in playing in a more central role over the past few seasons.

Notable mentions: Pepe (Santos FC)

Centre-midfielder: Xavi | Barcelona

Xavi, a modern-day footballing great, has been central to everything that Barcelona have achieved over the past decade.

A master passer, Xavi's vision and impressive passing range have seen him help Barcelona to seven La Liga crowns as well as three Champions League titles. He has also helped Spain to a World Cup and two European Championship titles, bagging the best player award in the 2008 edition.

The diminutive playmaker has also received five Ballon d'Or nominations, and is generally considered to be one of the foremost playmakers in the game.

Centre-midfielder: Steven Gerrard | Liverpool

Steven Gerrard has been Liverpool's talisman during a difficult period for the Reds. However, even with the team flailing, Gerrard has still managed to greatly impress with his exceptional drive and tenacity, which has seen him consistently considered among the best players in the world.

Gerrard also has a habit of scoring when the team most needs him to, and his various goals across the years stand testimony to that fact. Although he has never won the Premier League, Gerrard has helped bring a UEFA Cup and a Champions League to Anfield.

Notable mentions: Andres Iniesta (FC Barcelona), Paul Scholes (Manchester United), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Herbert Wimmer (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Wolfgang Overath (1. FC Koln), Ricardo Bochini (Independiente), Daniele de Rossi (AS Roma)

Right-wing: Fritz Walter | FC Kaiserslautern

Kaiserslautern and Germany legend Fritz Walter takes the right-wing spot.

The playmaker, who was selected as Germany's Golden player by UEFA in 2003 spent his entire 22-year career at his hometown club FC Kaiserslautern, transforming them into a side that could challenge for major honours.

He helped them to two Bundesliga crowns and is generally considered to be the greatest player in the history of the club. He also helped Germany to its first World Cup title in 1954.

In his honour, Kaiserslautern changed the name of its stadium to Fritz-Walter-Stadion in 1985.

Notable mentions: Sir Tom Finney (Preston North End), Jurgen Grabowski (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Striker: Santiago Bernabeu | Real Madrid

Santiago Bernabeu is probably the greatest player to ever have played for Real Madrid. Not just for his exploits on the field, where he has scored over 300 goals, but also for restructuring a Real Madrid side to convert it from being the second-best team in the Spanish capital to arguably the most successful football club in the world.

It was under his presidency that Real Madrid had its golden era, and much of the credit for the team's current stadium (which now bears his name) should also be given to him.

His exploits on the field are also not to be forgotten, with his goals tally good enough for the highest ever at the club. However, this award is usually not credited to him as La Liga was founded only in 1929.

Striker: Rafael Moreno Aranzadi 'Pichichi' | Athletic Bilbao

Pichichi (Spanish for 'Little Duck') is a far cry from the big, imposing forwards of modern day football. Standing at 5'1", the pint-sized attacker did not not let his height affect his goalscoring exploits as he plundered goals at will.

As per records, Pichichi scored at more than one goal a game during his 10-year career at the club. His playing days were seriously hampered by the Spanish Civil war, though, and he ended up playing only 170 games for the Basque club, scoring 200 goals.

Sadly, the world will never get to know just how great Pichichi actually was, as he died due to typhus in 1922, aged 29.

Considering his exploits on the pitch, Spanish sports daily Marca instituted the Pichichi award which is given to the highest scorer in the Primera and Segunda division each year.

Notable Mentions: Uwe Seeler (Hamburger SV), Matthias Sindelar (Austria Wien), Francesco Totti (AS Roma), Hans-Jurgen Kreische (Dynamo Dresden), Angelo Schiavio (Bologna), Sandro Mazzola (Inter Milan), Jose Piendibene (Penarol)


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