Loyal footballers have essentially become a thing of the past in the modern game, with long-time players of a club often shifting allegiances in search of better footballing prospects and/or more lucrative contracts. This is by no means a statement on the morale of such footballers as it only reflects the nature of the highly commercialized modern game.
The likes of Marco Reus at Borussia Dortmund, Gerard Pique at Barcelona and Giorgio Chiellini at Juventus have received widespread plaudits for their undying loyalty towards the club. A budding footballer working their way through the club's youth setup to become a regular starter for the senior team is still one of the best sights for football fans.
Today, we take a look at the five biggest one-club men in football history.
#5 Paul Scholes
The 11-time Premier League winner is one of the greatest midfielders in the history of English football, with a career spanning over two decades for the Red Devils.
At age 16, Paul Scholes formally joined Manchester United's youth academy and would go on to make his senior team debut, just three years later against Port Vale in a League Cup encounter. Born in the Greater Manchester area, Scholes emphatically announced his arrival in professional football when he scored a brace on his debut, securing a 2-1 win for Manchester United. In the next couple of decades, Paul Scholes would lay his hands on eleven Premier League titles, two Champions League trophies, four FA Cup winners medals, three League Cup titles and a FIFA Club World Cup accolade, to name just a few.
In an interview, Xavi described Scholes as "a spectacular player who has everything. He can play the final pass, he can score, he is strong, he never gets knocked off the ball and he doesn't give possession away." Pele, one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game, said: "If he (Scholes) was playing with me, I would have scored so many more."
The Englishman has acquired legendary status among the Manchester United faithful, representing the legendary club a whopping 718 times. Scholes racked up 155 goals in his time at the club.
#4 Steven Gerrard
Another prolific midfielder, Steven Gerrard, is undoubtedly among the greatest in the middle of the park in the 21st century.
While Liverpool have historically been a big club and regained their top status in recent years, the Englishman stuck with the club through an indifferent spell. Despite several offers from the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid, Steven Gerrard persisted with his boyhood club for a memorable 17-year-long association. In 710 appearances for the club, Gerrard notched up 186 goals, along with 145 assists - making him a Liverpool legend and one of the greatest in the club's illustrious history.
Although the Premier League title eluded Gerrard, he would go on to lift a Champions League trophy, two FA Cup titles, three League Cups, one UEFA SuperCup and the UEFA Cup (now known as Europa League), to name a few.
In later interviews, Gerrard admitted that he might regret his decision not to join Real Madrid when he retires and looks back on his career. However, after 9 major trophies and establishing legendary status at his boyhood club - there's little to regret for the midfield maestro.