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The Greatest One Club Players of All Time

Money can buy you almost anything in sports, as Chelsea, Manchester City, and Real Madrid fans know all too well. But there's one thing it can't buy you: loyalty. The great irony of assembling a team of the best players money can buy is that if someone offers them more money, they'll leave. Such is the life of a mercenary. We take a look at some of the most famous one-club players in football history. They might not be the players that have played the most games statistically, especially since some random South American players could have easily racked up thousands of games without anyone paying attention. They are, however, some of Europe's biggest and best players from the last two decades or so.

1. Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)

Paolo Maldini, arguably the greatest left-back in football history, spent 25 years at AC Milan, appearing in 647 league matches and winning seven Serie A titles. In total, he appeared 902 times for AC Milan in non-league matches. Maldini was a master of adaptability. When he first joined AC, left-backs were just that players who sat on the left side of the defense. He was fantastic in this part, and he remained to be so even as the role evolved and got more offensive. He wasn't afraid to break up the flanks, and he could even pull off the odd trick now and then. At the age of 39, he was named UEFA's best defender of the season, demonstrating his enduring ability. Until the day he retired, he was still a regular starter. He is not just a fantastic footballer, but also a fantastic human guy. He is revered by all, including Inter Milan fans, who erected a banner honoring him during his final derby match, a rare occurrence. Il Capitano was his nickname since he was universally regarded as a true leader.

2. Franco Baresi (AC Milan)

Franco Baresi was a legendary AC Milan player who helped shape Paolo Maldini into the player he is today. It may have gone in a very different direction. Franco had a tryout with Inter because his brother, Guiseppi, was a player there. Fortunately for AC, he was turned down, and he went on to make 719 appearances for the club. The sweeper stayed with AC Milan even after they were relegated, once due to a betting scandal. Baresi was not physically imposing, standing at about 5'9", and he lacked tremendous speed. Instead, he had a phenomenal ability to read the game and was always dealing with attacks before they even began. Because of this, he was awarded AC Milan's player of the century, and his number six shirt was retired after 20 years of service. Three Champions League wins and six Serie A titles were just a few of the reasons Baresi made 81 appearances for Italy. It would have been more if it hadn't been for coach disagreements. He missed a penalty in the 1994 World Cup final, hence his only World Cup winner's medal came in 1982, a tournament he did not participate in. Regardless, Baresi was a true legend of the game and one of AC Milan's most devoted employees.

3. Jamie Carragher

During his Liverpool career, the youngster from Bootle was frequently overshadowed by his friend and fellow local-lad Steven Gerrard, but that was exactly how he liked it. Carra, as he was affectionately known by Liverpool fans, made 737 appearances for the club and served as Vice-Captain for eleven years. Apart from the Premier League, he departed Liverpool with a winner's medal for every major prize, with the Anfield supporters often singing about wanting a "team of Carraghers."

4. Carles Puyol

The legendary 'El capitano' of Barcelona is recognized as one of the best center backs of all time. He spent his whole 15-year professional career with the club that had raised him since he was a child. In 1995, he joined Lamasia, Barcelona's youth program, and it would be another four years before he made his senior squad debut. At the completion of the 2003/4 season, he was named captain of the club, a position he held for ten years. Furthermore, with 593 appearances for Barcelona. Puyol has won 24 major honours with Blaugrana during an illustrious 15-year career, including 10 as captain, including 6 LaLiga crowns, 2 Spanish Cups, 8 Spanish Super Cups, 3 Champions League trophies, 3 UEFA Super Cups, and 2 FIFA Clubs World Cups.

5. Francesco Totti.

Francesco Totti is regarded as one of the greatest Italian players of all time, as well as the finest player in the history of AS Roma. He played at Roma for the entirety of his professional career, earning him the nicknames "the Gladiator," "the Golden Boy," and "Il Capitano. Despite lucrative offers from Real Madrid, Totti, who mostly played as an attacking midfielder or a second striker, refused to leave his team. With 785 appearances under his belt, the Gladiator is the club's all-time leading scorer with 307 goals. Totti, who was 22 at the time, was named the club's first captain on October 31, 1998, making him the youngest Serie A club captain. He held the role until 2017, when he hung up his boots. Totti has captained AS Roma for 19 of the club's 91 years of existence. Totti is widely regarded as one of the greatest single-club legends of all time, yet he hasn't won many team trophies, which just adds to his dedication. In the 2000/01 season, the Golden Boy won one Seria A title, two Coppa Italia crowns, and two Italian Super Cups. He also made 58 appearances for the Italian national team, scoring nine goals and assisting on 24 occasions. He was instrumental in his country reaching the final of Euro 2000 and winning the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Totti was named to the tournament All-Star team in both championships, as well as being awarded the man of the match in the EURO 2000 final match and the top assist provider in the 2006 World Cup.

6. Ryan Giggs

Manchester United fans admire the Welshman, who won 34 trophies during his time at Old Trafford, including 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League titles, and four FA Cups. Giggs is well-known for having spent practically his entire career with Sir Alex Ferguson, and after David Moyes was fired in 2014, he took over as temporary manager. His most memorable goal was a late victory against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final, which helped United win the treble that year.

7. Paul Scholes

Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and Zinedine Zidane have all praised Scholes as one of the best midfielders of all time. Manchester United won 11 Premier League titles and two Champions League titles during his time with the club. Despite momentarily retiring in 2011, Scholes returned to Old Trafford for a second period before retiring in 2013, having spent his whole career under Sir Alex Ferguson's leadership.

8. Tony Adams

Tony Adams is one of Arsenal's and English football's all-time greats. He captained both his club and his country's national team during his playing career. Before retiring from professional football in 2002, he spent his whole career with the club. Tony Adams won two Playing League First Division titles, two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two league cups, one European Cup Winners' Cup, one FA Charity Shield, and one Football League Centenary Trophy before retiring from football.

9. Thomas Muller till date

Despite the fact that Thomas Muller is still just 32, and has the possibility of going to another club before retiring, he deserves a spot on this list. For the past 14 years, the German international has commanded Bayern Munich's midfield and has showed no signs of leaving the club. After spending eight years with the club's youth division, the versatile footballer was promoted to the senior team in 2008 and has since scored over 118 goals for the German side. Bayern Munich has won nine Bundesliga crowns, six DFB-Pokals, five DFL-Supercups, two UEFA Champions Leagues, one UEFA Super Cup, and one FIFA Club World Cup thanks to his goals and flexibility.

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