Football is one of the sports in the world where the players have the opportunity to keep moving from one football club to another as frequently as possible. While most footballers enjoy doing that, there is a very slim category of players that would start and end their careers with just a football club. Such players are referred to as One club footballers.
It is not just enough to be a One club footballer, it is magical to be able to hold your own throughout your career’s lifespan in a club you choose to spend it in. Only a few players are able to do so before they hang their boots and say their byes to the beautiful game. It is those kinds of players this list attempts to recognize.
Without much ado, here is the list of 10 Best one club footballers in Football History
- Billy Wright (Wolves 1939 – 1959)
Billy Wright was one of the most respected footballers in English football history. He played his entire football career with Wolverhampton Wanderers between 1939 and 1959. The former England national team and Wolves captain who died on 3 September 1994 aged 70, won three First Division titles, one FA Cup, two FA Charity Shield with Wolves before he retired from professional football in 1959. He went on to manage Arsenal football club two years later between 1962 and 1966.
- Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich 2008 to date)
Though Thomas Muller is still 30-year-old and has the potential of moving to another club before he retires, he deserves a place on this list. The German international has been mounting the midfield of Bayern Munich for the past 12 years and he has never shown any sign of leaving the club. The versatile footballer who gained promotion to the club senior team in 2008 after spending 8 years in the club’s youth team has scored over 118 goals since he has been at the German club.
His goals and his versatility have helped Bayern Munich to win 9 Bundesliga titles, 6 DFB-Pokal, 5 DFL-Supercup, two UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup, and one FIFA Club World Cup.
- Carles Puyol (Barcelona 1999 – 2014)
Carles Puyol is one of the best one-club footballers in the history of football. He was a pure loyalist as he spent his entire football career at FC Barcelona. The 42-year-old former Spanish defender is regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time as he captained Barcelona to win everything in club football.
Before he retired from Barcelona and from professional football in 2014, Puyol helped Barcelona to win 7 La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, four Supercopa de España, three UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup, and two FIFA Club World Cup.
- Lev Yashin (Dynamo Moscow 1950–1970)
Lev Yashin was arguably the best goalkeeper in the history of football who played all his football career at Dynamo Moscow. He spent 20 solid years at the club exhibiting his incredible reflexes and athleticism.
He was the first and only goalkeeper to ever win the prestigious Ballon d’Or as the talisman of the Soviet Union. Before he retired from professional football in 1970, he won three Soviet Top League and five Soviet Cup. He died on 20 March 1990 aged 60.
- Tony Adams (Arsenal 1983–2002)
Tony Adams is one of the legends of Arsenal and English football as a whole. During his playing days, he captained both the club and his country’s national team. He spent his entire career at the club before he retired from professional football in 2002.
Before he left football, Tony Adams won two Football League First Division, two Premier League, three FA Cup, two football league cups, one European Cup Winners’ Cup, one FA Charity Shield, and one Football League Centenary Trophy. The 53-year-old football legend is currently the President of the Rugby Football League.
- Francesco Totti (Roma 1992–2017)
Francesco Totti is one of the most criticized legends in football because he decided to spend all his football career at Roma. He ignored all critics and chose to remain at Roma to become the club’s greatest footballer of all time. He retired honorably in 2017 after becoming Roma’s all-time leading scorer and appearance.
Before he left football, the Italian football icon won just one Italian Serie A title, two Coppa Italia, and two Supercoppa Italiana in 25 years of club football. The 43-year-old football icon was last seen in football in 2019 when he resigned from his club director role in AS Roma.
- Franco Baresi (AC Milan 1977–1997)
Franco Baresi is one of the greatest one-club footballers in the history of football. He spent 20 years of his football career playing for Italian Serie A giants AC Milan which he captained for 15 years. While at the club, the Italian football icon who played mainly as a central defender won 6 Italian Serie A titles, four Supercoppa Italiana, three European Cup/UEFA Champions League, two UEFA Super Cup, two Intercontinental Cup. Baresi was so loyal to AC Milan that he captained the club to two relegations and led them out of it before he retired in 1997.
- Ryan Giggs (Manchester United 1990–2014)
Ryan Giggs is one of the most respected footballers at Manchester United. The Welsh football icon spent all his football career playing for the Premier League giants. He was so important for the club that he had to serve as the club’s interim coach before he honorably bowed out from the club.
Before then, he helped Manchester United to win 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cup, three football league cup, 9 Community Shield, two UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, and one FIFA Club World Cup. He is currently the head coach of the Wales national team.
- Paolo Maldini (AC Milan 1984–2009)
Paolo Maldini is one of the greatest defenders in the history of football. He spent his entire football career playing for Italian Serie A side, AC Milan. He captained the club so well that they had to call him “The Captain”.
Before he retired from active football, Maldini helped AC Milan to win 7 Serie A, one Coppa Italia, 5 Supercoppa Italiana, 5 European Cup/Champions League, four UEFA Super Cup, two Intercontinental Cup, and one FIFA Club World Cup. The 52-year-old football icon is currently AC Milan technical director.
- Lionel Messi (Barcelona 2004 to date)
Though Lionel Messi is still 33-year-old and very active as far as football is concerned, he deserves a place on this list. In fact, he deserves the first spot when you are talking about the best one-club footballers in the history of football.
In recent times, Messi has shown that he does not want to retire from football as a one-club man, but until he makes that move, this position will continue to belong to him.
This is so because Messi is the only footballer in history to ever win 6 Ballon d’Or and won all of them in Barcelona. He has also won six European Golden Shoes while playing for Barcelona.
Since 2008, the Argentine football icon has won 33 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, and six Copas del Rey for Barcelona. There is no player in the history of football, dead or alive, that is so decorated despite playing for just a club. Hence, he would remain the best one-club footballer of all time if he doesn’t leave Barcelona until he retires from the game.