Published On: Mon, Jul 17th, 2017

Farewell, Totti: 4 others likely to go down as one-club men

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Francesco Totti announced his retirement from the beautiful game Monday, ending a career that started – and ended – at AS Roma. Indeed, the Eternal City’s favourite son deserves his legend, having made over 600 appearances in 25 years at the club.

Who else might match Totti’s one-club moniker? Here are five players who could replicate the feat of loyalty.

Daniele De Rossi (Roma)

Like Totti, midfielder Daniele De Rossi has committed his playing career solely to the Roman cause, giving all 16 years thus far to I Giallorossi. The 33-year-old recently signed a two-year extension that may very well be his last contract as a professional footballer.

For Roman-born De Rossi, no other club has managed to acquire his signature despite plenty of overtures throughout the years. He recently claimed his only regret is never getting to “experience the atmosphere in other countries, such as in England or Spain,” adding that his choice to stay was “wrong on a professional level,” but that it’s because his heart has always been at home.

“I needed to play for Roma. I get physical and emotional pleasure playing with this jersey on my back,” De Rossi said, as quoted by FourFourTwo. “The years when I was about to leave, I’d step on to the field with tears in my eyes. Looking around and thinking it might be my last match at the Olimpico … Those moments made me realise I couldn’t live without Roma.”

Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)

Few players are as iconic as Totti, but in Barcelona, Andres Iniesta has been a perfect example of the club’s shining qualities. A former youth product developed in-house, Iniesta’s silky-smooth passing and penchant for goals and assists have made him the finest midfielder of his generation.

For his lessons learned at La Masia, Iniesta has returned 17 years of service to the Blaugrana, with over 680 appearances, eight La Liga titles, five Copa del Rey victories, and four Champions League crowns. His teammate Lionel Messi has been there every step of the way, and the Argentine might have made this list if not for his public desire to return to Newell’s Old Boys in the future.

Iniesta has at times been linked with a move away from the club, but barring a Xavi-esque switch to a nation flush with cash, it’s hard to see the 33-year-old club captain donning the shirt of another.

Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow)

CSKA Moscow goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev has been a staple for both club and country since joining the Russian military outfit in 2003. With 14 years at CSKA under his belt, Akinfeev has manned the posts as the starter since the age of 17, and has won six Russian Premier League titles in that time.

The 2012-13 Russian Player of the Year has had plenty of opportunities to join another club in Europe, but he’s remained a steadfast guard of CSKA’s goal, while suffering the lumps of loyalty in the process.

In fact, Akinfeev has endured a 40-match streak of goals conceded in the Champions League, going 10 years without a clean sheet in the competition. But yet, he’s remains.

Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

Thomas Muller came up through the youth ranks at Bayern Munich, made his name for both club and country, offers tremendous versatility in multiple roles up top and in midfield, and consistently finds the back of the net. He’s a goal machine when on fire, and despite enduring a bit of poor form last season, Muller is, at bare minimum, a consistent attacking threat for the Bavarians.

It ultimately begs the question: If Bayern doesn’t want to sell him, and Muller doesn’t want to leave … why should he ever?

At 27, Muller has already given 11 years of his professional career to Bayern. And, not only did he turn down a massive move to Manchester United in 2016, but he used that denial as a pledge of allegiance to his current club.

“It set a signal that you don’t leave FC Bayern even when England offers a lot with all the TV money,” Muller said, as quoted by ESPN FC. “It was a statement from me and the club that we stand together, feel great together and pursue goals together.”

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)

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