Is this the end of the One Club Legend?
The weekend newspapers have been full of Steven Gerrard’s decision to leave Liverpool at the end of the season and play out his last few years in America. No-one can blame him for seeking a golden swansong after his unwavering loyalty and commitment to the Liverpool cause since coming through their youth system and making his first team debut in 1998. But as fans of any club, we can’t change our allegiance – John Bishop recently said when asked about Liverpool’s performances this season, ‘It’s not like shopping at Tesco’s, you can’t change to another team just because you don’t like the results”. So we are all one club supporters, whoever that club is and we love the idea that one of us made it to the first team and will stay there tackling, passing, scoring for us for the rest of his playing days.
In truth, this has always been something of a rarity but, sadly, as Captain Fantastic prepares to depart, I think we may have seen the last of such Legends. The Manchester United class of 92 had its fair share but Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and, latterly, Giggsy have all now retired from playing. In a way it was easier for them because they were winning lots of titles and Cups so why would they want to move on when Sir Alex wanted them to stay. Jamie Carragher was another who played his entire career for a top club before moving to the media.
Another was Matt Le Tissier. I love his loyalty because he was not at a ‘trophy’ club. His incomparable flair and exquisite goals made him a transfer target for the big boys but he decided to stay where his heart lay at Southampton. Another, John Trollope, played an incredible 770 games for unfashionable Swindon Town between 1960 and 1980.
The general consensus seems to be that a one club legend should have played for that club (and only that club) for at least 10 years. A quick look around Europe shows that they still exist, Iniesta and Xavi at Barcelona, Schweinsteiger at Bayern Munich, Totti at Roma, but as I look around the Premiership I can’t see any. The closest are John Terry and Gabby Agbonlahor. Both came through the youth set up and both have had 10 or more seasons in the first team. But both had loan spells at other clubs early in their careers. Did they kiss the badge? Does it matter? After all, they were only there on the instructions of the club they loved; to improve themselves for the club they wanted to play for. In this day and age of agents, big money contracts, large squads and loan deals, perhaps we can’t expect anything else.
Tell us what you think and if you have a one club legend (or someone getting closer to it) at your club. Whichever way you look at it, Steven Gerrard’s decision signals the end of an era so let’s all enjoy his amazing talent for the rest of the season, no matter who we support.