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First Eleven – One Club Men

January 19, 2011

Bolton Wanderers and England legend Nat Lofthouse passed away over the weekend at the age of 85. Lofthouse scored 285 times in more than 500 games for the Lancashire club between 1946 and 1960. However, his time with the Trotters didn’t end when he finished playing.

After Lofthouse’s career was ended by injury, the striker went on to become the chief coach, chief scout and caretaker at Bolton before becoming the club president in 1986. He is the pure definition of the “One Club Man.” He gave everything he could to a single club and so, inspired by his passing, The First Eleven is proud to present a line-up of the brilliant and legendary “One Club Men…”

Captain: #9 Nat Lofthouse

As the man that inspired the selection, it’s only fair that Lofthouse gets to lead our team out. Born and raised in Bolton, there was never any other team that he was likely to play for. Lofthouse broke into the Bolton team at a young age and then stayed there. Despite being a big target man, he was a successful captain of the club and led the team to victory in the 1958 FA Cup. His England career saw him scoring 30 goals in 33 games and he is most remembered for his performance in a 3-2 victory over Austria in 1952. The “Lion of Vienna” was injured in the act of scoring the winning goal but refused to leave the pitch until victory was guaranteed.

Goalkeeper: #1 Lev Yashin

Few players have revolutionised their position quite like Lev Yashin. He was one of the first goalkeepers to punch the ball rather than trying to catch it in awkward situations, he utilised a quick throwing of the ball to begin a counterattack and he would rush out of his penalty area at the anticipation of danger. Things that we take for granted now from our ‘keepers was all started by Yashin and he did it all with Dynamo Moscow. There were offers for him to move abroad and he was heavily touted by Real Madrid but he remained with his hometown club.

Right-back: #2 John McDermott

Probably the least celebrated of the team that we’ll put out, John McDermott is a player unlikely to be repeated in the lower leagues of English football. From 1987 until 2007 he played 754 games for Grimsby Town, experiencing relegation and promotion nine times. McDermott played over 600 league games for The Mariners and was well-known as an efficient tackler. He rarely conceded a needless foul and was applauded off the pitch by the Grimsby and Shrewsbury fans when his career ended on April 29th 2007.

Centre half: #3 Paolo Maldini

Mentored by another Milan legend and someone set to come up later in this team, Paolo Maldini enjoyed one of the most successful careers in footballing history across 24 years with Milan. He claimed seven Scudetti and just five European Cups on his way to going as one of the best defenders ever. Constantly praised not only for his incredible consistency but the class and sportsmanship that he always retained, Maldini continued playing until the age of 40. Unsurprisingly, the number 3 shirt has been retired by Milan.

Left-back: #4 Jimmy Dickinson

Jimmy Dickinson is second only to Swindon Town’s John Trollope with the number of league appearances made for one club. Dickinson played 764 times for Portsmouth across 21 years. He made his debut aged 21 and retired at the age of 42 and then returned to manage the club in 1977, helping them avoid relegation from the old Third Division at the first time of asking. Dickinson was never booked or sent off throughout his whole career, including in his 48 caps for England.

Central midfielder: #5 Carlos Fernando Borja

Carlos Fernando Borja won eleven Bolivian league titles through his career with Bolivar, making him the most successful player in the history of Bolivian football. His successes on the pitch also lead to him enjoying a rather popular profile off of it. Following his footballing career, Borja served in the Bolivian House of Representatives and worked heavily towards improving footballing facilities in the country.

Centre half: #6 Franco Baresi

Franco Baresi’s achievements for Milan would have been seen as much more special if Paolo Maldini hadn’t of came along so after him. Baresi and Maldini were joined in the Milan back four by Alessandro Costacurta and Mauro Tassotti and together, the group have been rated amongst the best in footballing history. Baresi played 719 times for Milan and like Maldini; he saw his number 6 shirt retired when he brought his career to an end.

Right winger: #7 Giampiero Boniperti

In February of last year, Alessandro Del Piero broke the appearance record for Juventus when he played his 445th game. The man that played 444 games for The Old Lady was Giampiero Boniperti who saw his goal scoring record for the Turin club also broken by Del Piero in January 2006. Boniperti, a future club president of Juventus and a deputy of the European Parliament, was one third of “the Magical Trio” alongside Omar Sivori and John Charles. The three players immediately clicked together and helped Juve dominate Italian football for four all-conquering seasons between 1958 and 1961.

Central midfielder: #8 Xavi

It’s a pity that Xavi wasn’t named the FIFA Ballon d’Or winner earlier this month. It would have made his inclusion in this team a little easier but in the interest of trying to keep a playing balance, he gets the nod ahead of his team-mates Anders Iniesta and Lionel Messi although any one of the three deserve recognition. Let’s call Xavi an inclusion representing every single one of the La Masia youth academy. The central midfielder has won everything there is to win in the game including the 2010 World Cup and according to Sid Lowe; he is regarded as the best Spanish midfielder ever. There rarely seems to be a month go past that he doesn’t break some pass completion record.

Striker: #10 Santiago Bernabéu Yeste

The fact that Real Madrid play in a stadium named after Santiago Bernabéu Yeste should tell you all you need to know about the striker. Bernabéu played for Real Madrid up until his retirement in 1927 scoring over 200 goals. Following the Spanish Civil War which ended in 1939, Real Madrid was effectively a dead club. Numerous players and officials were killed in the war and without any government funding; he took it upon himself to re-establish the club. He served as the director, assistant manager and first team manager before being elected as the Club President in 1943. He remained in charge until his death in 1978, completing overhauling the club and leading it towards five back-to-back European Cup victories. He is generally considered to be responsibility for transforming Real Madrid from the second most successful club in Madrid into the most successful in Spain, and one of the most successful in Europe.

Left winger: #11 Ryan Giggs

With 32 winners’ medals to his name, Ryan Giggs is Britain’s most decorated footballer. The Welsh winger has won 11 league titles, more than any other player in English club football history, as well as a host of other club awards. The days of seeing him skip past full-backs at will are long gone but his combination of individual skill, unprecedented team success, and for the most part impeccable conduct has earned him the enduring respect of the majority of the footballing world. The only real shame in his career is that he never played at a World Cup.

One Club Men First XI

Agree of disagree? Please leave your comments below.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2011 3:05 pm

    Perhaps as a player not one of the greats but Bill Nicholson played for Spurs 341 times and then went on to be their most successful manager in Spurs history between 1958-1974 winning the double and much much more. Perhaps we’ve found the manager of the team here?!

  2. January 19, 2011 4:32 pm

    Noel Baillie’s made over 1,000 appearances for Linfield since 1986. Still playing at 39. Not as famous as some on the list but the undisputed winner if you count longevity.

  3. January 19, 2011 7:45 pm

    There’s plenty of one-club men about right now – usually at pretty big clubs:: Neville, Scholes, Giggs, Gerrard, Xavi, Carragher, Casillas…

    Surprised Fachetti and Finney didn’t make it?


  4. Durand permalink
    January 19, 2011 8:13 pm

    Fachetti and Scholes easily instead of Dickinson and Xavi

  5. Jason kernan permalink
    January 19, 2011 8:15 pm

    What about carragher, Gerard, tommy smith and Ian Callaghan? All worthy of being in

  6. January 20, 2011 3:14 pm

    No Matt Le Tissier? Oh dear.

    Glad to see Gerard isn’t on that list though, a hugely overrated player.


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