Francesco Totti made his final appearance for Roma on Sunday after 25 years in the capital city. His years of service have been formally recognised by UEFA, who presented the Roman with the UEFA Presidents Award. Totti played in his final game against Genoa coming on as a substitute in a 3-2 victory for Giallorossi. Following his retirement the club announced his induction to the clubs Hall of Fame. After spending a quarter of a century with Roma, he is now considered the most beloved player in the club’s history. For all the money the world could throw at him he never left the city or the clubs side. For 25 years he has been recognised as “the symbol of Rome”.
25 years (28 counting his youth career), 786 appearances and 307 goals. They don’t make them like that anymore.
Here are some of my favourite one-club men, including a list of Scottish and other international one-club men that are worthy of recognition.
SANTIAGO BERNABEU YESTE
Club: Real Madrid
Years of Service: 1911 – 1978 (67 years of service)
Playing: 1911 – 1927 (16 years)
Director of Football and Coach: 1927 – 1933 (6 years)
Assistant Manager: 1933 – 1936 (3 years)
Manager: 1936 – 1941 (7 years)
President: 1943 – 1978 (35 years)
Yes, the man whose name is known the world over, because it is the name given to the stadium of most successful team in European Football. The Santiago Bernabeu is the home of 11 times European Champions, Real Madrird. It must take something very special to be bequeath such an honour. Mr Bernabeu joined Los Blancos as a 14 year old in 1911 and made 689 appearances until his retirement in 1927. His contributions beyond playing included roles as the director of football, coach and President; a role which he served for 35 years. Under his Presidency, Bernabeu Yeste overseen the construction of the clubs magnifficent stadium. He is also responsible for bringing legendary forward Alfredo Di Stefano to the Spanish capital. His total years of service amasses to 67 years.
Club: Tottenham Hotspurs
Years of Service: 1936 – 1997 (55 years of service)
Playing: 1936 – 1954 (18 years)
Managing: 1958 – 1974 (16 years)
Consultant, Scout and President: 1976 – 1997 (21 years)
Nicholson joined Spurs as a 16 year old boy in 1936. Despite the interruption of his football career, caused by the war, Mr Nicholson still managed to appear in 341 matches for the London outfit between 1938 – 1954. Pedants may wish to point out that Nicholson turned out as a guest player for Darlington and Newcastle United, on 19 occasions no less. But we won’t be allowing technicalities to disqualify the magnificent Nicholson. It was his career as the Spurs manager, a post he held for 16 years, which highlights Nicholson and Spurs glory days. A success Pochettino’s XI will wish to emulate in due course. Nicholson was at the helm, in his first season, when Spurs completed the first double of the twentieth century; winning the League and FA Cup in 1961. Throughout his career he lifted three FA Cups, two League Cups, three FA Charity Shields, a UEFA Cup and a European Cup winners cup. Bill arrived at White Hart Lane in 1936, taken on as a ground-staff boy being paid £2 a week, and served as a player, coach and manger for 38 years. Nicholson returned in 1976 as a consultant and chief scout, following a spell on the scouting staff at West Ham United. During his time as manager Bill established a club culture, by signing some of the best players to ever pull on the white jersey. Players like Dave Mackay, Alan Gilzean, Jimmy Greaves, Alan Mullery, John White, Steve Perryman, Pat Jennings, Martin Chivers and Martin Peters. Nicholson’s connection to Spurs continued until his retirement in 1997. In 1991 Nicholson was given the honour of being appointed the President of the club he served for over 50 years.
Club: Dynamo Moscow
Years of Service: 1950 – 1990 (40 years)
Playing: 1950 – 1970 (20 years)
Managing: 1970 – 1990 (20 years)
The Black Spider played football for Dynamo Moscow for 20 years between 1950 – 1970. Yashin’s Dynamo career did not get off to the best start. In a friendly match in 1950, the big goalie conceded a soft goal straight from the opposing goalkeeper clearance. Not to matter, Yashin continued on and finally got his first team break in 1953 after three years at the reserves. He is considered to be the greatest goalkeeper of all-time. According to FIFA records, Yashin saved over 150 penalties and kept over 270 clean sheets. With these statistics in mind its no surprise that he became the only goalkeeper to receive the Ballon d’Or, an award he picked up in 1963. After retiring from playing, Yashin spent another 20 years at Dynamo Moscow as a youth-team coach and in various administrative positions. A bronze statue of Lev Yashin was erected at the Dynamo Stadium in Moscow in honour of a terrific career and a tremendous service to the football club.
Years of Service: 1926 – 1953 (27 years)
Playing: 1926 – 1953 (27 consecutive playing seasons)
Altinordu made his debut for the Izmir outfit as a 14 year old in 1926, and continued to make appearances for the club until he was 41 years of age. He amassed a record-breaking 27 consecutive playing seasons. Altinordu derived his surname from the team he played for following President Mustafa Kemal’s new law passed in 1934 which demanded that all Turks must have a surname (for clarity, most Muslims didn’t have one). Despite starting most games at centre-back in 1936-37 he was the club and division top scorer. The big boys of Fenerbache and Galatasaray came in for the brilliant Altinordu but the one-club player made the decision to stay in his beloved Izmir, and for his loyalty the city erected not one but two statues of him in his honour.
Club: AC Milan
Years of Service: 1985 – 2009 (24 years)
Playing: 1985 – 2009 (24 years)
“The only club in the world where I could have found the same ambition as Real Madrid, but they never contacted me.” Maldini was the Maestro at the back; he could play anywhere across the back four; he could play with his left foot; he could play with his right; he seamlessly morphed from the Rossoneri youth system into one of the greatest club sides ever assembled. Maldini spent 25 seasons at the San Siro before retiring at the age of 41. During that time he won seven Serie A titles, five European cups, one Coppa Italia, five Suppercoppe Italiane, five European Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup. The Magnificent Maldini.
ONE MAN CLUB
Joe Wark – Motherwell – 20 years
Bobby Walker – Hearts – 18 years
Frank Beattie – Kilmarnock – 18 years
Jackie Campbell – Partick Thistle – 19 years
Ross Caven – Queens Park – 20 years
Eddie Gray – Leeds United – 19 years
John Greig – Rangers – 17 years
Billy Liddell – Liverpool – 22 years
Maurice Malpas – Dundee United – 21 years
Doug Smith – Dundee United – 18 years
Billy McNeil – Celtic – 17 years
Bob McKinley – Nottingham Forrest – 20 years
David Meiklejohn – Rangers – 17 years
Willie Miller – Aberdeen – 18 years
ACTIVE SCOTTISH PLAYERS
Andrew Considine – Aberdeen – 14 years
Lewis Stevenson – Hibernian – 11 years
Steven Anderson – St Johnstone – 12 years
Rogerio Ceni – Sao Paolo – 20 years
Tony Adams – Arsenal – 18 years
Paul Scholes – Manchester United – 20 years
Ricardo Bochini – Independiente – 25 years
John Trollope – Swindon Town – 33 years
Ryan Giggs – Manchester United – 24 years