Top 10 One-Club footballers who truly loved their team

Published on 14 February 2024 at 13:00

Every club has a devoted servant, so patriotic that they bleed the colours of their beloved football team for their entire career. To celebrate the international day of love, we take look at football's most loyal players who are adored by their fans and share a unwavering eternal bond of love with their club. Valentines Day doesn't just come in the form of tokenistic flowers and chocolates, for football enthusiasts its about cherishing those footballers who demonstrate honour and pride in fighting for the badge.




A revered gentleman famous for lifting the 1966 World Cup and later managing the Republic of Ireland to their maiden World Cup, reaching the Quarter Finals. After signing his first contract with Leeds United at 17, he completed two years of national service for the Household Cavalry before earning promotion to the first division with his childhood club.

His maverick nature caused problems during his 21 years at the Yorkshire club; he was sidelined by Don Revie for partying and drinking and pushed for an exit when the club faced relegation in the 1959-60 season.

But, at Leeds he was understood and under Don Revie he showed his professionalism to get back in contention and went on to mount a title charge in 1964-65. During his illustrious career at Leeds he won the footballer of the year and later lifted the first division title in 1969.

While, their was controversy along the way such as his on field fight with Valencia defender Vidagany in 1965, his raw and honest personality and dedication at the club meant he became a legend eventually winning the FA Cup in 1972.


PAOLO MALDINI - AC MILAN (1984 - 2009)

One of the greatest defenders of all time; reaching an record equalling eight European cup finals, lifting 26 trophies and making 902 appearances for the Rosseneri over a decorated 25 seasons.

He made his debut aged 16 for AC Milan and became part of the "immortals" under Arrigo Sacchi winning the first of his seven Scudetto's in 1987-88. The 55 year old, was then part of the "Invincibles" team who lifted the 1991-92 title undefeated.

He formed one of the greatest ever partnerships with Franco Baresi which saw him reach three consecutive European finals and in 1997 he took over as captain of Milan and went on to lead a new era at the club.

Under Carlo Ancelotti he lifted the 2002-03 Champions League exactly 40 years since his father Cesare had done for the club.

He etched his name into the history book making over 1,000 career appearances for club and country and retired at the age of 41 over two decades after he first wore the famous red and black of Milan. The club retired his number 3 shirt after his retirement in 2009.



The Madrilenos joined Atletico's academy at eight and has gone on to make a club record 683 appearances for the Los Colchoneros. He has been instrumental to the club's recent rise under Diego Simeone lifting the Europa League at the age of 20, before a historic Copa Del Rey victory over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernebeu. 

In 2013-14, the Spaniard helped Atletico Madrid surpass the quarter finals of the Champions League for the first time since 1974 and he lifted their first La Liga title in 18 years. He has become a mainstay at the heart of Atletico's midfield impressing with his passing and versatility, deployed as a central midfielder or on the right and left wing.

He lifted La Liga in 2020-21 and added a further Europa League trophy to his name. The 32 year old is currently embarking on his 15th season and embodies everything that is indicative of a Diego Simeone player; hunger, tenacity and passion.



The World Cup winner was a born-leader in the Bayern Munich youth set-up, captaining his side to successive Bundesliga youth titles. He had attracted youth scout Jan Pienta while at local youth team Gern and joined Bayern aged 11, with the club projecting him to be a extremely talented player.

Wily Sagnol and Bixente Lizarazu kept a 18 year old Phillip Lahm out of the first team at Bayern initially but after a loan spell at Stuttgart and recovery from a torn ACL injury he became a mainstay in the side.

In 2009 he received the highest fine in the history of the club (£25,000) for conducting a unauthorised interview, slating the club's transfer policy and game plan, but he later promised to stay at the club refuting offers from Manchester United and Barcelona.

The right-back won eight Bundesliga titles at the Bavarian giants as well as the 2012-13 Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. He was hailed for his professionalism and athleticism, regarded as arguably the best right-back in the world where he was included in three successive World Cup teams of the tournament.

He made 659 appearances for the reigning German Champions and left a void in his position when he retired in 2017, after 15 years of consistency at the highest level.



The journeyman, has served Los Blancos for 13 years acting as a reliable deputy or versatile alternative. While, he's been an outsider to the decadence and glamour of Real Madrid's Galactico's, he has always performed when called upon and while he hasn't hit the headlines he has been a crucial part of their European dominance during the last decade.

He was integrated into the first team under Jose Mouhrino in 2012 and the following year received the number 18 shirt after the departure of Raul Albiol to Napoli. He later signed a long-term contract until 2021 and went on to lift five Champions League titles and three La Liga titles. 

His name has always been linked with a move away from Madrid, to fulfil a greater role but the 34 year old has always remained loyal to his boyhood club and has seemed to cherish donning the famous white shirt of Real Madrid no matter what capacity.

He was promoted to vice-captain in 2022-23, which emphasises his presence behind the scenes in the dressing room and has played a greater role at the club under Carlo Ancelotti given the injuries to Eder Militao and David Alaba.

CARLES PUYOL - BARCELONA   (1999 - 2014)

"El Tiburon" captained Barcelona for a decade between 2004 to his retirement in 2014 leading the Catalan giants to 18 trophies including three Champions League titles.

The Spaniard was reneowned as one of the greatest leaders in football history, with his commanding stature and defensive prowess on the field where he possessed strength and power.

After, Louis Van Gaal afforded the centre-back his debut in 1999 he went on to sign a five year contract and instantly gained respect and kudos from his teammates for his loyalty and commitment to the club. 

He was crowned World champion with Spain in 2010 going on to make 100 appearances for his country, and lifted six La Liga titles during his time at Barcelona.

The 45 year old represented the dying-breed of traditional non-nonsense centre-backs who inspired their team, where he showcased a fearlessness at the back which intimidated opposition.



This individual symbolises a one-club man, adopting his beloved club's name as his surname because of his identification and loyalty to them. He left an eternal legacy at the Turkish club with the youth and academy facilities of Altinordu S.K later being named after this hero facilitating teams from Under 7 to Under 14.

The defender won six Izmir football league titles, across his 847 games at the club and he became the first representative from Altinordu to be called up by Türkiye. This was a record he held for 78 years, until Calgar Soyuncu was called-up. 

On the 91st anniversary of Altinordu S.K a statue was enacted for Altinordu in front of the Alsancak Terminal. The statute represents the moment Altinordu scored the winning goal against Eskisehir Demispor at the 1935 Turkish football Championships semi-final. 


FRANCESCO TOTTI - AS ROMA   (1993 - 2017)

Italy's golden boy was inseparable from his beloved AS Roma playing 786 games over a prolific 24 years with the Giallorossi.

The 2006 World Cup winner lifted the club's last Serie A title in 2000/01 and became the Italian leagues all-time leading goal scorer with 250 goals.

He represented a true professional who was dedicated to his club, in 2007 he retired from international football so that he could soley focus on Roma in that same year he won the European Golden boot.

Totti became Serie A's youngest ever captain while at Roma and went on to leave an ever-lasting legacy at the club, as one of the greatest players of all-time winning footballer of the year five times and winning eleven Oscar del calcio awards.

He went on to play for Roma until 2017 where he was still breaking records even in his late thirties, becoming the oldest Champions League goalscorer at the age of 38 and 59 days.




The current Sky Sports football pundit served as Liverpool's vice-captain for 10 years and became the club's second-ever longest serving player making 737 appearances for the club.

A boyhood academy graduate, the centre-back made his debut for Liverpool in 1996 and instantly cemented a first team place initially as a full-back and then transitioning into a centre-back under Rafael Benitez.

The defender was notorious as being a no-nonsense and difficult defender to play against, who bullied his opponents. He was a bonafied leader; with a loud vocal presence and instrumental leadership traits which rallied his teammates.

During his17 year career span at Liverpool he won two FA Cups, three league cups, two community shields and three European cups including that famous night in Istanbul against AC Milan in the Champions League.

He prided his game on his commitment, work-rate and courage on the field, where he was prepared to go into battle for his badge and loved a hard-challenge to get the crowd going at Anfield.

After 508 Premier League appearances, gaining the reputation as one of the England's greatest ever centre-backs he retired in 2013 and went on to pursue a role in sport punditry, where he has become an active spokesperson for his beloved Liverpool.



The second German world champion on this list who starred in the 2014 final against Argentina in Brazil, Muller is one of football's most liked players for his charismatic and funny personality.

He has been at the epicentre of Bayern's recent dominance; winning 12 Bundesliga titles, a plethora of domestic cups in Germany and two Champions League titles.

The 34 year old has been a reassuring presence in the heart of Bayern's midfield for 16 years, exemplifying professionalism and loyalty. Last season he became the club's fourth all-time appearance maker in November completing his 600th game for the club and he became the player with the most Bundesliga titles ever.

While, speculation circled surrounding his future he extended his contract at the end of last season and became the first player to play in 16 Bundesliga seasons as well as becoming the third fastest footballer to acclaim 100 Champions League wins.

The attacker is a born winner and has always delivered in the biggest moments for Bayern Munich, but he has always gone under the radar because of his humbleness where he does the hard-work but lets his teammates receive the accolade.


Written by Lewis Eadie

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