Sadly, the one-club player is a dying breed of footballer. With the rapid injection of money, especially within the Premier League largely due to monumental TV deals, loyal players are becoming increasingly difficult to find in the modern game.
However, there are a select few one-club players who have cemented their names in the history of their beloved clubs, not just for their loyalty off the field, but also due to their extreme talent on it. Here’s the best five one-club players in the history of the Premier League.
5. Matt Le Tissier – Southampton
Affectionately known by Southampton supporters as “Le Tiss” or “Le God,” Matt Le Tissier was one of the most technically gifted English talents to ever feature in the Premier League. Le Tissier played in the old English First Division and made the crossover into the newly-formed Premier League in 1992.
Not known for his speed or stamina, however, Le Tissier more than made up for it with his touch, quick feet, dribbling ability and sheer prowess in front of goal. Togging out for Southampton 443 times throughout his career, he scored 161 goals, helping them avoid relegation from the Premier League on several occasions.
A gifted player who was deadly in front of goal, Le Tissier had many opportunities to join one of the league’s powerhouses but chose honorably to stay and play for his beloved Southampton, sealing his place in the club’s history. Ask any Southampton fan to tell you a story about Matt Le Tissier and watch their face instantly light up.
Le Tissier was also famous for being a lethal spot-kick taker, finishing a whopping 47 out of the 48 penalties he took for the club. His one miss came in 1993 against Nottingham Forest keeper Mark Crossley, who fondly remembers that save as the most memorable of his career. Sadly, Le Tissier never even got close to getting his hands on a Premier League title, but his sometimes mesmerising football ability and loyalty to his club earn him a spot in the top five.
4. Jamie Carragher – Liverpool
When Carragher hung up his boots at the end of the 2013 Premier League season he put an end to his 17-year career at Liverpool. You would only need to hear Carragher mutter one word to know he is a born and bred Scouser, but he of course actually grew up supporting fierce Merseyside rivals Everton.
Carragher rose up through the ranks at Liverpool, helping the club win the 1996 FA Youth Cup, before Roy Evans gave him a chance in the first team the following season. Often used as a utility player, Carragher was fiercely competitive and able to play in any position across the back line, but it’s at centre-back where he established himself as one of Liverpool’s all-time greatest defenders.
Unfortunately after 17 seasons, Carragher never managed to get his hands on the Premier League title, but he helped The Reds to two FA Cup titles, three League Cups, a UEFA Cup, and of course one unforgettable UEFA Champions League title.
A Jamie Carragher goal was a real collector’s item at Anfield but he did get his name on the scoresheet five times in an incredible 737 appearances for the club. Carragher’s Sky Sports counterpart Gary Neville will be unlucky not to get the nod here, but Carra’s career is more than deserving of this spot.
3. Tony Adams – Arsenal
Arguably one the best defenders to ever play in the Premier League era, Tony Adams enjoyed a glittering 22 years at Arsenal, making his debut for the club in 1983 against Sunderland in the First Division. Adams also enjoyed a succesful career at international level with England, and remains the first and only player to make three consecutive tournament appearances in three separate decades for The Three Lions.
However it’s not with England where Adams achieved his monumental litany of honours. It was at Highbury, dubbed “The Home Of Football” by Arsenal fans, where Adams got his hands two First Division titles, two Premier League titles, two FA Cups and two League Cups. He was known for his excellent reading of the game, fantastic tackling ability and leadership on the field. It’s The Gunners who he appeared for 669 times, scoring 48 times – not bad for a centre-back.
After his playing career ended in 2002, Adams tried his hand at managing, with brief spells at Wycombe Wanderers, Portsmouth and Granada.
2. Paul Scholes – Manchester United
Paul Scholes is undeniably one of the greatest midfield talents to ever grace the Premier League, and enjoyed the privilege of togging out for his childhood club 718 times over the course of 20 years.
Scholes’ movement and passing ability was on another level to most football players, so much so that he was even used as an example at Barcelona’s famed youth academy La Masia, who produced the likes of Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, and let’s not forget Leo Messi.
He was often poked fun at by pundits and fans (and also by himself) for his notoriously poor tackling ability, which actually earned him the fifth-most yellow cards in Premier League history with 97, also collecting four red cards. However, his vision, passing, technique and control of the ball fortunately gave Sir Alex no choice but to have him lead the midfield for several years at Old Trafford.
11 Premier League medals, three FA Cups, two League Cups, two UEFA Champions League medals, and a FIFA Club World Cup medal lie in Scholes’ stacked trophy cabinet at home.
Taking up a role as a pundit after his playing career, Scholes can now be seen criticising the hierarchy at his beloved Manchester United and suffering through a dark period at Old Trafford as a fan.
1. Ryan Giggs – Manchester United
Ryan Giggs is one of only 25 players to make over 1,000 career appearances, and is the most decorated player in football history. He is undeniably the best one-club player in the history of the Premier League, and arguably in world football.
There will be people who will argue a top two of Manchester United players, but who can legitimately argue a case against these two players’ talent and consistent performances at the top level, as well as their ridiculous amount of major honours ?
Giggs was a natural born talent. After a brief trial with United, Sir Alex Ferguson showed up to a 14-year-old Giggs’ house and offered to sign him up as a schoolboy. At 17, United snapped him up by offering him a professional contract for the club, and the rest was history.
The Welsh winger had lightning pace, excellent crossing and dribbling ability which would match anyone in the game. In his later years with his dwindling speed, Giggs dropped into a more central role and used his creative talents to dictate the game from midfield, and finally hung up his boots at an amazing 40-years-old, putting an end to a decorated 24 years at Manchester United.
It will be a long time before someone overtakes Giggs’ trophy haul, which includes 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two UEFA Champions League medals and a FIFA Club World Cup.