Often, a footballer comes to a club and leaves behind an indelible mark, managing to influence and transform the fortunes of the institution single-handedly and occupy the hearts of fans even years after their departure.
From Bobby Charlton of the original Busby babes to Lionel Messi of the champion Barcelona side, the legacy of these footballers become inextricably intertwined with the history of their respective clubs. In this article, we will take a look at ten such legends who transformed the fortunes of their clubs.
Note: This list is in no particular order.
10 footballers who transformed their clubs:
#10 Francesco Totti
Francesco Totti will forever remain one of the all-time legends of Roma, no matter what transpires in the future. L'Ottavo Re di Roma (The Eighth King of Rome), as he was nicknamed, was steadfast in his devotion to the club, with the indefatigible midfielder providing the inspiration for much of the club's success in the 2000s.
The Roman club won only their third Serie A title during that period (a feat yet to be repeated) and finished runner-up on numerous occasions besides conjuring Cup successes and impressive European runs aplenty.
On and off the pitch, the footballer won respect for himself and Roma who rubbed shoulders with the European big boys with aplomb during that golden period.
#9 Diego Maradona
This is a football story like no other. Diego Maradona is often considered the best footballer to have ever played the game, but most hail his World Cup win for Argentina as his biggest achievement. But the left-footed magician also made an Italian city revere him for eternity because of his exploits for their football club.
Many were shocked when Diego Maradona moved to Napoli for a record fee from the mighty Barcelona. However, in a trophy-laden spell at the formerly underachieving club, Maradona won the Serie A and UEFA Cup and lots and lots of love from the Napoli faithful.
Maradona's Hand of God transformed not just a club but a city from the poorer South that finally snatched away the coveted league title from the richer (and hated North).
The league triumph engendered parties on the the streets of Naples, the likes of which the city had never seen before. Though Maradona being Maradona, he got engulfed in controversies related to drugs, an illegitimate son and discipline. But the footballer remains the captain who truly transformed the club, and in his honour, Napoli retired their number ten jersey.