It used to be that a player spending the bulk of his career at a single club wasn't especially unusual. As the years have passed, though, such players—and even more so one-club men—have become something of a rarity, and it now seems normal for players to move on after just two or three seasons at any club.
Players can at times be accused of a mercenary mindset, but the truth is that the clubs are just as happy to move on when something new and shiny comes along. On occasion, though, there are still players whose careers are tied inextricably to one club. For Liverpool this century, that list is a short one headed up by Jamie Carragher, who managed to both begin and end ended his career a Red.
Steven Gerrard nearly made it, but in the end left to see out the final days of his career in MLS. Then there's Sami Hyypia, who spent a decade at Anfield. While some departed fan favourites also spent lengthy spells at the club—players like Daniel Agger, Pepe Reina, and Xabi Alonso—next on the list are Lucas Leiva and Martin Skrtel, both now into their ninth seasons with Liverpool.
"I feel the fans appreciate the players that have been loyal to the club and been here for a long time, playing in the Liverpool jersey for many years," Lucas wrote on the club's official website. "Of course, we all know I had a difficult start, but my time here has been good and I wouldn't change anything. So much so my son, Pedro, is currently at Liverpool's academy and he's enjoying it a lot."
It hasn't always been an easy road for Lucas, and one imagines he wouldn't actually be against a few changes to it—his ACL injury in particular comes to mind. The perseverance he showed in overcoming that injury, though, reflects the drive that helped him to establish himself at the club and that has kept him fighting for a place under five different managers now.
Fortunately for Lucas, it appears this fifth manager at least values the role he plays. That hasn't always been the case. Many of the fans haven't always been behind him, either—and a few still manage to doubt what he brings to the side despite a mass of evidence to the contrary. Through it all, Lucas has fought for his place. He's earned his spot amongst the club's most loyal, longest-serving players.
"After all this time here, I think of myself as a Scouser now," he added. "Of course I do. It's been almost 10 years for me here and my two kids were born in Liverpool. It feel as though I've been adopted very well by the people here. I have a lot of passion for this club and I try to show that every time I step out onto the pitch."