Loyalty is a very rare thing to find in the world these days. Most people are so self-centered that they abandon the ship they are sailing on – the very moment they feel a strong wave hitting against the ship.
Hence, in a world like this, being able to locate a loyal person is just about as hard as discovering a Unicorn. But all is not lost just yet, humanity still lives.
In football, about 90% of the players love their own careers more than they love the club they play for. Despite playing for years in a club, they wouldn’t hesitate a moment before saying yes to another club of higher stature.
But there are exceptions here. Some players wear the crest on their sleeves and are like those musicians that sunk with the titanic—in other words, stay at the club even if they have been relegated.
And here are 5 such players…
He might be the most underrated or overrated midfielder in the world, it just depends on who you are asking. While the debate rages on here, what can’t be argued is loyalty—at least with West Ham.
Despite having a fine squad, West Ham United couldn’t avoid the embarrassment of being relegated back in 2003. Every star talent in the team jumped ship; Jermain Defoe handed in a transfer request within 24 hours, Glen Johnson and Joe Cole left for Chelsea, Frederic Kanoute signed for Tottenham while the rest scattered to other clubs.
But one man stayed: the then 21-year-old Michael Carrick.
It wasn’t that he didn’t have any suitors for him; far from that, actually. The former Tottenham star was already a full-fledged England international and a first-team regular with the Hammers, so he was someone who attracted attention, but he chose to stick with the club who put him in the limelight in the first place and try to help them to qualify for the Premier League next season.
It is a general consensus that players who come from abroad are more likely to leave the club for a better one at the very first chance, and it is quite understandable. A foreign player doesn’t necessarily have the same love for the club like a local one would and hence it is only natural for him to leave when the opportune moment comes.
However, Fabricio Coloccini stands as an exception here.
The then 26-year-old was an established player for Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna when Newcastle United paid 10 million pounds to sign him. In his very first season, he became a mainstay at the back, but couldn’t avoid his team from getting relegated.
One would have expected him to seek for pastures new at this point, but he opted to stay and fight the Toons back into the Premiership—and he played an integral part in doing so when they shot up to the Premiership the very next season.
If there was one English player who oozed a warrior spirit and unparalleled grit, it is Scott Parker. The one-time England captain was a mainstay in the Premier League for over a decade, but decided to change things a bit when he opted to stay with Fulham despite them being relegated.
After 2 years at Tottenham Hotspur, where he provided some incredible service, he joined Fulham in 2013. However, in his very first season with the club, they got relegated to the Championship. Now while Scott Parker might be in the wrong side of 30s, he still has what it takes to play in the Premier League.
But he chose to stay at Fulham. He might not have been able to make Craven Cottage a Premier League stadium once again, as Fulham are playing in the Championship for the second season running, but it shows the passion he oozes for the club he plays for.
If you have read this far, you were already expecting this name to pop up by now. For the younger readers, Juventus were once relegated despite being the champions of Serie A in 2007 due to the Calciopoli scandal.
Buffon, who was not an academy product for the Old Lady and was signed from Parma for a record 53 million Euros, opted to stick with the club when the other star players like Ibrahimovic, Lillian Thuram et al. left the club.
On his decision to stay aboard, he said: “I cannot hide that, after five years here, I was tempted by a new experience. This club has helped me to win and if I have become world champion, it is thanks to Juve. I can cope with a year in the second division and I will look to do something new and win the Serie B title.”
And it is for this reason that he is respected even by rivals.
Alessandro Del Piero
Perhaps Juve’s greatest ever player of the modern era, he is a true representation of what unconditional love is. He might be made in Padova, but his heart is Juventus through and through.
When Juve were sure to play in the Serie B, Del Piero was of the opinion that the other players should stay with the club as: "The Agnelli family deserve this, as do the fans and the new directors."
He became an absolute legend with the club when he said, “a true gentleman never leaves his lady,” when asked about why he chose to stay with Juve. He scored 20 goals in Serie B and helped Juve return to the top flight instantly.
However, Juve couldn’t do justice to him when they failed to award him a contract in 2012, which forced him to go to Australia and play for Sydney.