Disclaimer: This article is based on the views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Sportskeeda.
“Confidentiality is a virtue of the loyal, as loyalty is the virtue of faithfulness” - Edwin Louis Cole
Football is a galaxy, comprising of various solar systems and planets. The sport is the most followed and most popular in the world, with almost every country playing it on a regular basis. Unlike other sports, football is widely played more among the clubs than countries.
As players reach their potential and take their talent to absolute world class stage, business and money come into role. Some sway away whereas some use their “art of avoidance” to be with the same club. This is where loyalty comes alive and the sole objective of loyal players are realized. Passion and commitment towards the club is far more important than star status and earning money. Modern football has seen many big players from David Beckham to Cristiano Ronaldo being swayed away for status and money but there are some legendary figures who simply “play for the logo on the front and are remembered by the jersey number and name on behind”.
Here, is a list of top 10 most loyal footballers that have graced this wonderful sport with their zeal.
10. Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona)
One of the best players in the world today, who has also featured in top 3 FIFA Ballon d’Or list since 2009, up until this year where he lost the spot to Andres Iniesta. Xavi Hernandez has a huge fan following and is undoubtedly the “heart and soul” of Barcelona. He came through Barca’s youth academy “La Masia” at the age of 11 and got his first chance to feature in senior team in the year 1998 and since then, he has found a home in Catalonia. Having scored over 75 goals and more than 180 assists, Xavi is truly one of the very best. His consistency and love for the club, has earned plaudits from fans world over. He is number 10 on the list.
9. Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
The year 2001 is very special for the West London club, as it was the period when Chelsea’s biggest star was born. Frank Lampard came to Stamford Bridge from West Ham United and it didn’t take him time to adapt in one of the biggest clubs in England. Lampard wore the famous 8 number jersey for “The Blues” and carried the blue flag high on his shoulders. Kissing the Chelsea crest was one of his very special goal celebrations – a sign of immense loyalty. With over 230 goals and more than 130 assists, Lampard earned a huge name for himself and was the face of Chelsea Football Club. With rumours about his imminent departure as Chelsea will not renew his new contract, Lampard continues to deliver numerous goals and assists. Being such a mega star, approached by several clubs, Lampard’s blood is still blue.
8. Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Arguably, the best goalkeeper today and one of the best of all time, Iker has played for Los Blancos youth side since 1990 until he made his debut for the senior side in 1998. Today, the Real Madrid captain is still determined to play for the all-whites. Casillas, who has won 14 Titles for the club and more than 30 individual awards, is the most respected footballer in Spain. He has never been into any controversy and has always played in the spirit of the game. Currently injured, he’s has had many issues with the club and management this season, but he’s still a very loyal member of the Spanish giants.
7. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Liverpool is one of the best clubs in England and Europe, but the club’s success has come to a standstill. After dominating England and Europe, the great side has failed to deliver consistently. However, the name of this legendary club will never be forgotten because of its loyal soldier – Steven Gerrard, who has scored more than 150 clubs for the Reds. He has single-handedly taken his side to major titles such as FA Cup, League Cup and the Champions League. Gerrard has been approached by various clubs in his time but has refused to sign for any of them. The name and fame that Liverpool get today is only because of his star player.
6. Carles Puyol (Barcelona)
One of the most respected players in Spain, Puyol has been a true Catalan since 1996. He was in the youth team during the early 90′s and after his famous debut, Puyol has maintained his position in the side with sublime performances. With over 10 individual awards and guiding Barcelona to 5 La Liga titles, he has even lifted the Champions League thrice.
“Puyol is the key, not just because he is one of the best defenders in the world but because of his character. He never lets up.”- Xavi.
5. Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan)
Inter Milan signed the Argentine in the year 1995 and ever since then, Zanetti has always wore blue and black. This loyal Inter Milan full-back has even scored 26 goals. Tacking and crossing have been his biggest asset and during his time he has helped Inter win the Serie A title 5 times. He also lifted the famous European crown in 2009, where he went on to stop Lionel Messi and Barcelona in the semi-finals before demolishing Bayern Munich 2-0.
4. Paul Scholes (Manchester United)
He joined Manchester United as an apprentice in 1991 before turning professional two years later and played a key part in United’s treble winning season of ’99. Scholes was considered to be one of the best midfielders in the world during his prime and has scored more than 150 times with over 700 games for United. Having retired in 2011, he made a comeback joined the ranks yet again just over a year later.
3. Francesco Totti (AS Roma)
The captain of Roma, who has played over 650 matches and scored 278 goals in all competitions, is our number 3 in the list. Totti has over 15 individual awards, 5 domestic titles with Roma and 6 Ballon d’Or nominations to support his credentials. The reason why he has been so successful is simply because of his love towards the club. Having rejected offers from other Italian giants and many other European champions, Totti has continued to be the loyal captain of Roma. He’s Roma’s record top goal scorer with 223 goals and is one of the most loved athletes in Italy.
2. Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)
The legendary Italian, who featured in Milan’s youth team from 1975 to 1985 and continued playing for them in the senior time till 2009, finally ended his 34 years service in the same city and same stadium. He is arguably the most loyal player ever to have graced the beautiful game of football. Maldini was a remarkable defender who has played 647 matches and scored 29 times. After his retirement, Maldini was approached by Chelsea to become a manager, and it took him no time to say no.
1. Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
The Welsh international joined the greatest club in England and one of the best in the world in 1987 as a member of United’s youth team. Giggs has been so loyal and disciplined that he has avoided big offers from clubs without even considering it. The legendary United figure has appeared more than 930 times and scored over 160 goals. Since the inception of Premier League, Giggs has played in all the seasons, scored in all of them and lifted the title 12 times. He has tasted Cup success over 18 times, including two Champions League trophies. With more than 30 individual awards and 3 special awards from United Kingdom, the United number 11 is the most loyal footballer in the history without any question.
1. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
2. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)
3. John Terry (Chelsea)
4. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Disclaimer: This article is based on the views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Sportskeeda.Published 16 Feb 2013, 14:01 IST