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Top 10 Most Loyal Players in Club Football

The football season is underway and while we have had flashy transfers, we also need to pay attention to those players who stayed at their clubs for a long time to achieve victory.

Last updated: 14.08.2019
Top 10 Most Loyal Players in Club Football | Sports Social Blog

The transfer season in England wrapped up and football fans have their blood pumping with excitement. Who could blame them? There have been some game-changing transfers. Some transfers were surprises and others were the result of years of anticipation coming to fruition, such as in the case of Hazard and Griezmann. It seems that with every year, transfers are just getting more and more attention even when the window is long over. And while transfers are great, we also need to follow those players who have stuck it out with their clubs through thick and thin. There’s just as much merit in sticking with a club and the club sticking with you, raking in the trophies and as a result, you are immortalized by the fans. Here we will look at some of the most loyal players in Club Football. Keep in mind that just the number of years alone wasn’t the only criteria. There was also the iconic nature, hype and acclaim of the player to consider.


10. Alessandro Del Piero (1993-2012 for Juventus):


There was no doubt that one player from Juventus was going to make this list. It was just a matter of who. Del Piero was one of the most prolific goalscorers of his generation(s?).  Not to mention, he won almost every trophy under the sun including 6 Serie A’s, 1 UCL trophy and the most coveted football world cup. The technical and free-kick wizard ranks 2nd among Italy’s all-time goalscorers. With Juventus, he played 705 matches, scoring 290 goals. Most importantly, he was there to see Juventus through their rough times. When Juventus was relegated in 2006-07, a lot of big players left in the aftermath but he(among others) stayed and brought the Italian Champions back to the top. What is of particular joy was that he stayed long enough to see Juventus through to their first-ever Serie A win since the relegation. Overall, Del Piero is a bonafide legend and Juventus has yet to lose Serie A title since they won with ADP in 2011-12.



9. Igor Akinfeev (2001-present for CSKA Moscow):


Akinfeev has been ranked among some of the best goalkeepers of his generation and it’s hard not to see why. He has played the entirety of his career so far for CSKA Moscow and has over 100 caps for Russia. The 33- year old has become one of Russia’s most prized athletes. He has won the Russian Premier League 6 times and has more clean sheets in Russian football than any other player. He has been strong on all fronts of goalkeeping, whether it’s positioning or stopping power and that’s why he’s an iconic Russian athlete. He is simply Russia’s crown jewel when it comes to football and that’s probably why they’ve fought to keep him there for 19 years. 



8. Sergio Ramos (2004- present for Real Madrid):


Everyone knows that Real Madrid is the definition of prestige when it comes to football. It is also well known that keeping a career that spans 15-plus years over at the club is near impossible. This is due to Real Madrid’s almost fickle nature when it comes to transfers, selling players at the drop of a hat to buy the new budding player that’s at the convergence point of all the hype. It does seem to work, considering Real Madrid has the most La Liga’s and UCL’s in history. So it’s even more incredible that Sergio Ramos has been at the club since 2004. Bought for €27 million in 2004, he was one of the most expensive hauls at the time and it seems like he delivered on the amount. Playing 606 games, the Spanish World Cup winner is one of RMA’s most capped players of all time and in all likelihood will be their most capped players as the seasons progress. He is one of the best (possibly the best) defenders of his generation thanks to his incredible sense of aggression and defensive technicality. He has won 4 La Liga titles and 4 UCL trophies, three of which he won in succession.



7. Lionel Messi (2004- present for Barcelona FC):


Simply put, Lionel Messi might just be the greatest player of all time. Even in matches where he doesn’t score, you can feel his contributions; and he scores in almost all of them. His precision, whether it’s passing or shooting is nearly flawless. His dribbling is unparalleled and he has broken more records than was thought to be possible. The 32 -year old has garnered 10 La Liga’s and 4 Champions Leagues for FC Barcelona(2 Trebles). He did all that despite being in a league with Cristiano Ronaldo on the other side with Madrid and a rising  Atletico. He has won the Golden Ball and took Argentina to the final. Messi is the La Liga’s all-time top scorer with 419 goals in 452 matches(687 matches total). It won’t be too long before the goals and matches become level. He is also no. 2 on the top scorers in the UCL. He is the reason why Barcelona is synonymous with trophies and it looks like it will stay that way, despite it already being 15-plus years since he started out. 



6. Javier Zanetti ( 1995-2014 for Inter Milan):


Zanetti is simply one of Argentina’s greatest players. He’s had a myriad of achievements. He was incredibly versatile with a terrific level of vision and concentration. As a result, Inter Milan couldn’t play him enough, whether it was on defence or midfield. He played all the way to 40 and Inter Milan is all the greater a club because of it. He is the foreign player with the most appearances in Serie A and he is the seventh-most capped player in history, having played over 1000 matches.   In 2010, he became the oldest player to net a goal in the Champions League in Inter’s match against Tottenham. He has won 5 Serie A’s and 1 UCL trophy. Zanetti is one of the few players to have won the European treble and Inter Milan is one of 7 Teams to do so. All in all, he has played 858 games for Inter Milan, going down in history as one of their all-time greats.

5. Steven Gerrard (1998-2015 for Liverpool):


What better way to start off the top 5?! Steven Gerrard is definitely Liverpool’s most iconic (probably best) player in the Premier League era. He made the no. 8 jersey iconic. The Ballon D’or 2nd Runner Up simply is one of the greatest players to ever grace England, naturally meaning he’s also one of the best midfielders. Whether it was shooting or passing from long distance or fantastic setpieces or some world-class displays of ball control and concentration, Gerrard was the man who had it in spades. It’s really no surprise that he had more than 100 caps for England. He was one of the goalscorers in Liverpool’s 3-3 comeback against AC Milan in 2005. They eventually won the final in a match that went down as one of the greatest in history. Despite not winning the PL, Steven Gerrard is simply seen as one of those players who personify the gold standard of football, especially in the central midfield. The Englishman was simply just that good.



4. John Terry ( 1998-2017 for Chelsea):


He was one of the men that was responsible for Chelsea rising to their elite status as a football club, aside from being possibly the best defender to ever play in the Premier League. The level of commitment he showed on the pitch, whether it was through aggressive tackling and blocks or just plain read of the game, was simply in a class of it’s own. He is one of five players to have made over 500 appearances for Chelsea and is the club’s all-time top-scoring defender. He is their most successful captain as well and simply worked wonders with Jose Mourinho as a coach. As a captain, he led the London club to 5 Premier League Titles, 1 Europa League and their only Champions League. Very few players can boast such achievements. In total, he played 717 matches for Chelsea and with Lampard, is surely their most recognizable player.



3. Francesco Totti ( 1992-2017 for AS Roma):


Yes, those years are right and almost unthinkable. To put another way, Francesco Totti has played more years for AS Roma than Raheem Sterling has lived. Not ‘played’ but ‘lived’. The World Cup winner is not only one of the greatest Italian attackers but one of their greatest players in general. He is among the most prolific of goalscorers, having scored 250 goals and is the 2nd highest goal scorer in the history of the Italian League. That’s kind of expected given the calibre of player he was with his ball control, vision, finishing, and general versatility, being able to play multiple offensive positions and being extremely effecting in almost all of them. He led Roma to their first Serie A win since 1982-83, in 2000-01 with 13 goals and was the Serie A Italian Footballer of the year. It’s kind of obvious at this point, but Totti is the club’s all-time top-scorer as well their most capped player with 307 goals in 786 matches.



2. Paolo Maldini (1984- 2009 for AC Milan):


Paolo Maldini is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He is also one of the most decorated. He turned Milan into a hotbed for great football. Maldini played both left-back and Central Defender because he was great at tackling, read,  athleticism and general technicality. The fact that he was great with both feet just made him play even better at more positions. It is one of the most surprising miracles that he never won the Ballon d'Or. The list of amazing things just doesn’t end when it comes to Maldini. He played till 41 for AC Milan, which is just unthinkable. The Italian won 25 trophies in the ACM jersey, including a staggering 5 Champions League Trophies. He also won 8 Serie A titles and 2 Intercontinental Cups. Maldini played a gargantuan 902 games for AC Milan and his status as an all-time great is unimpeachable.



1. Ryan Giggs ( 1990-2014 for Manchester United):


The Welshman is simply the footballer that practically coined the term ‘loyalty’. Sure there were other players who were loyal before him or played more years at their club but he just defined the term. Giggs could play multiple positions and was fast, had a great balance with a lot of stamina. His passing was excellent as was his crossing. He just conveyed the ‘never give up’ attitude like no other. He was the first player in history to win 2 consecutive PFA Young Player of the Year awards and that’s his most minuscule achievement. Giggs won 13 Premier League titles with Manchester United. Not even another team has won has many in the PL era and only Liverpool has won more if the English league as it started from the late 1800’s is counted. He has also won 2 Champions Leagues and 4 FA Cups. He is one of the very few players to have won the European treble. In fact, only 8 teams have won the European treble and the Man U squad of 1998-99 is one of them. Last but not least, he is one of only 28 players to have amassed 1000-plus matches. He played 963 matches for Manchester United and is one of the most decorated players of all time with 34 trophies. A legend through and through who exemplifies loyalty.



Hon. Mentions: Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Paul Scholes (Manchester United), Gary Neville (Manchester United), Xavi (Barcelona), Iniesta (Barcelona), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma)

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