In recent times, the ‘one-club man’ has become a phenomenon of the past. With the news of Andres Iniesta’s new life-long contract at Barcelona, though, the ‘one-club man’ tradition is clearly alive and well in Spain.
Signing what remains of his football career to Barcelona, Iniesta finds himself joining a long list of ‘one-club men’. RealSport asks which of these ‘one-club men’ will go down in history as the greatest of them all?
1 FRANCESCO TOTTI
In a career that spanned over 21 years, Totti contributed to a goal every other game on average for Roma. Along with his goal-scoring ability, his 181 assists make him one of Serie A's greatest ever players. By the end of his time at Roma, Totti was their most capped player ever and their highest scorer of all time.
The forward's statistics are even more impressive considering he rarely played as an out-and-out striker, often deployed slightly deeper due to his capacity to create chances for others.
As for honours, Totti won the Oscar del Calcio a record 11 times, was Serie A player of the year twice and Italian player of the year five times. He is also a World Cup winner and played into his 40s before he retired last summer.
A true legend of Italian football and someone who is respected throughout the footballing world for sticking with Roma despite having a number of opportunities to join more illustrious clubs.
2 PAUL SCHOLES
Club: Manchester United
Position: Centre midfield
Zinedine Zidane was once asked by a journalist how it felt to be the best player in the world. Zidane replied, "ask Paul Scholes". That tells you everything you need to know about the ability of the ginger genius.
Scholes is arguably the greatest long-range passer to grace the game and he tormented teams from the heart of United's midfield for over 20 seasons. During this time, he won 11 Premier League titles for United, two Champions Leagues, including the treble in the 1998/99 season.
3 PAOLO MALDINI
Club: AC Milan
Position: Centre back/ left back.
Considered by many the greatest defender to play the game, Maldini retired at the age of 41 after 25 seasons for AC Milan. Across those seasons, he won 26 trophies including the Champions League an incredible five times.
Maldini could operate in almost any position across the backline, such was his technical ability with both feet. The best defenders rarely need to make last-ditch tackles and Maldini was certainly one of those: with his expertise at reading the game, the Italian rarely got his shorts muddy.
4 RYAN GIGGS
Position: Left Midfield
Club: Manchester United
Welshman Ryan Giggs is the second United entry into this exclusive list. Giggs is the most decorated player in English football history: at United, he won 13 Premier League medals - more than any other player - as well as four FA Cup's, three League Cups and two Champions Leagues.
It was Giggs's development that was most impressive about his incredible ability. He went from a brilliant winger who could tear past players to a genius midfielder who had to rely on his intelligence and technique to continue playing at the highest level.
The Welshman was the first player to win the PFA Young Player of the Year two seasons in a row - in 1992 and 1993. However, inexplicably, he didn't win the main award until 2009.
5 CARLOS PUYOL
Position: Centre back
Possibly the greatest club captain ever, Puyol was the leader during Barcelona's most successful era ever, helping the side to a treble and eventually winning three Champions Leagues, six La Ligas and a World Cup. Made captain of Barcelona in 2004, he remained the skipper until his retirement in 2014.
Puyol is something of a cult hero at Barcelona, with a no-nonsense, aggressive playing style and long shaggy hair. Puyol was also a brilliant footballer and the club still miss his presence at the back.
A true 'one-club man', Puyol rose through the ranks at Barcelona from the C side all the way through to the first team where he played for 16 years. In the course of his career, he was also capped over 100 times for Spain.
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