Gary Neville retiring from Old Trafford does not only herald the end of the famous Manchester United youth team of the 1990’s but also the end of the one-club man. Increasingly players, such as Fernando Torres, declare their ‘love’ for the club (Liverp0ol) before moving to their arch-rivals (Chelsea).
COS takes a look at the dying breed of players who remain loyal to their clubs:
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A wise man said, “When you leave Old Trafford, the only way is down”. United players have taken this advice to heart and only ever grudgingly leave. Apart from Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney – who said he was leaving to get a new contract – who else wants to leave? It is not just the Giggs’ and the Scholes’ of this either. The new generation of players such as Darren Fletcher, Wes Brown and John O’Shea are just as loyal.
The Kop idol has stayed loyal to the club, despite strong interest from Chelsea over years, and fans adore him for that. His ‘Roy of the Rovers’ style of football struck a chord with many scousers and led to his being captain in 2003. He may have sacrificed his ambition to lift the Premier League title but over the 13 years he has played for Liverpool, he has won a Champions League and two FA Cups in nearly 400 appearances.
Despite spending many years as understudy for Shay Given, Harper has been at Newcastle United for 18 seasons. He may have played at other clubs but only on loan. His loyalty has only brought him one reward – a Championship winners medal – but he is loved by all Geordie fans for his commitment as well as outstanding saves.
He may have been a boyhood Everton fan, but now his heart is draped in the red of Liverpool. After 15 years at the heart of Liverpool defence it looks strange when he is not there. He has even admitted publicly that he rather play for Liverpool than England. His loyalty is so greatly felt by the scouser support, that there are calls for him to become manager once he retires.
Chronic knee problems have undoubtedly hampered the centre-back’s career, for England as well as Tottenham but, but he is still a legend at White Hart Lane. He took over the mantle left by Sol Campbell in 1998 and captained Spurs to a League Cup victory 10 years later. His performances left Martin Jol to say King was the best defender in the world. But it is unstinting loyalty to Tottenham for which the fans will remember him most.
He may not be loyal to his teammates off the pitch, but on it Terry has led and played with unstinting loyalty and passion. Being part of the Chelsea set-up since 1998, he has captained the Blues throughout their most successful period – winning three league titles and four FA Cups. There was a chance he would follow the riches and move to Manchester City, but a whopping new contract ended that speculation, leaving him likely to spend the rest of his career at Stamford Bridge.
Coid is the only current player to have played for Blackpool in all three divisions of the Football League. He joined the Seasiders in 1998, and the versatile right-back won promotion through all the leagues, via the play offs, and into the promised land of the Premier League.
A member of the Everton first team since 2000, he has never scored for the Tofees. The right-back may only have a FA Cup runners-up medal to his name but he has played more European games than any other Everton player.
And Two players from yester-year:
‘Mr Arsenal’ never played in any other club’s shirt and in 19 years at Highbury he made 668 appearances – most of them as captain. He also led the club to a hat full of trophies including four League titles and three FA Cups.
Matthew Le Tissier
Nicknamed ‘Le God’ by Southampton fans for good reason. In 16 years at the club he almost single-handedly saved them from relegation several times, often with stunning goals from midfield. Rejected offers to join Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea and retired after 540 games in the red and white.
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