Will Mark Noble be last one-club player of Premier League era?
West Ham captain Mark Noble enjoyed an emotional farewell on Sunday, with his career-long stay at the club set to come to an end this summer.
Noble had loan spells at Hull City and Ipswich Town as a youngster but has spent his entire career on the books of West Ham – an increasingly rare feat in the modern football world.
With almost 550 appearances for the Hammers under his belt, Noble goes down as a club icon.
He may also be the last one-club player of the Premier League era, following these greats…
Paul Scholes: 718 appearances for Manchester United
The fact Scholes did not have the England team built around him remains baffling to this day.
A haul of 66 appearances for the Three Lions is nothing to be sniffed at but the fact Scholes was often shunted out to the flank to accommodate Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard is very odd.
Scholes was close to the complete midfielder, featuring 499 times in the Premier League and scoring 107 times across his two spells at the club. Scholes retired in 2011 but was back just six months later, playing another full season to collect his 11th Premier League winners’ medal.
Perhaps the only weakness in his game was tackling. Scholes collected some 97 yellow cards in the Premier League – at the time the third most in the competition’s history – with his predilection for late tackles second only to his talent for scoring screamers from long range.
Tony Adams: 672 appearances for Arsenal
Known as Mr Arsenal, Adams rightly has a statue outside the Emirates Stadium to recognise his status as one of the greatest one-club men in English football history.
Adams joined Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1980 and was captain by the age of 21. He skippered the Gunners to league titles in three decades – a feat no player has ever repeated, nor is likely to – and formed an impermeable defence with Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould.
Battling addiction to alcohol during his career makes Adams’ amazing achievements even more impressive. During his recovery, which was helped by the arrival of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Adams captained the club to two Premiership and FA Cup Doubles. Adams set up the Sporting Chance clinic in 2000 to help athletes deal with addiction and mental health issues.
Adams also featured at four major international tournaments for England, winning 66 caps for his country, but it is as an Arsenal legend that football will remember him forever more.
Gary Neville: 602 appearances for Manchester United
Back to Old Trafford now, with right-back Neville also part of United’s Class of 92 with Scholes.
Club captain for much of his time at United, Neville’s raids down the right flank – and his partnership with close friend David Beckham – were a defining factor in the team’s dominance.
Neville collected eight Premier League titles and was part of the famous Treble-winning team of 1999, going on to celebrate a second European crown with United some nine years later.
Named in the Premier League Team of the Year on five occasions, Neville was one of the great full-backs of the era. While he failed badly as a manager in Spain with Valencia, Neville is now regarded as one of the finest television pundits in the sport.
Jamie Carragher: 737 appearances for Liverpool
Neville’s broadcast colleague Carragher was another great one-club man, representing only Liverpool during a stellar career that delivered seven domestic cups, but never the league title.
Carragher was actually a striker and an attacking midfielder as a youngster, but he soon became a defensive titan at Anfield, breaking into the first team in 1997-98 season.
Initially a utility player who was lumbered with a reputation as a jack of all trades, Carragher eventually nailed down a regular place in the side, though he often had to play at right-back due to the excellence of Sami Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz in the middle of the Liverpool defence.
Carragher was one of the stars of Liverpool’s Champions League triumph in Istanbul, Rafael Benitez having shifted him to centre-back, and he won 38 England caps over an 11-year period.
Ryan Giggs: 963 appearances for Manchester United
The ultimate one-club man of the Premier League era is Giggs, among the most decorated players that the game has ever seen, having won 13 Premier League titles at Old Trafford.
Giggs reinvented himself as a central midfielder to extend his career, having been a thrillingly quick winger in his youth. The solo goal Giggs scored in the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal was one of his finest moments but there were many – he scored 168 goals for United.
Still playing at 40, Giggs became part of the coaching staff under David Moyes at United upon retirement, then stepped up to take caretaker charge for a period when the Scot was sacked.
Giggs, along with Scholes and Neville, is now a part-owner of Salford City with the League Two club having celebrated four promotions since the ex-United group took charge back in 2014.