There are some players who remain religiously loyal to their club throughout their careers. Epitomized by the likes of Ryan Giggs, Francesco Totti and Matt Le Tissier, one-club men are a dying breed, and most modern players play for a multitude of teams. However, some players take that to an extreme. Whilst playing for five or six clubs is practically the norm in the modern game, playing for 15 or 16 is a different matter.
These nomadic players who seemingly make a career out of moving from one club to another are often referred to as 'journeymen'. Some see the term as simply meaning a player who moves around regularly, although others would argue that it carries negative connotations. With it, perhaps, comes suggestions of being unloyal, a mercenary, having a tendency to suffer a drop off in form, fall out with people or become unsettled at their current club.
Whilst there is no definitive term for how many clubs a player must turn out for before being labelled a 'journeyman', one would suggest that any player whose list of teams gets into the double digits could fairly safely pick up the tag. Meanwhile, every player on this list made switching from one club to another into an art form. The caliber isn't really a focus of this list, but rather just the sheer amount of times these players have moved around. Here are the top 15 nomadic footballers.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
15 Nicolas Anelka
It is perhaps with some shame that Nicolas Anelka has been reduced to a football 'journeyman'. With a CV featuring PSG, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Juventus, the Frenchman's ability is undoubted and was obviously duly-noted by some of the most respected and successful managers in the game. A clever player, with superb technique and a turn of pace in his younger days, Anelka should really have gone down as one of the finest forwards of his generation. In total, he made 13 transfers and played for 12 different teams, having had two spells at PSG. Anelka is currently a free agent, since leaving Mumbai City FC in November 2014.
14 Ade Akinbiyi
Once a highly-rated young forward, Ade Akinbiyi racked up some big money moves in over two decades of professional football. He impressed with Gillingham, Bristol City and Wolves, before becoming Leicester City's record signing, costing £5.5 million. From here on, the Nigerian's career began to dwindle. He struggled to score consistently and tumbled down the leagues, becoming the footballing nomad he is known as today. To date, Akinbiyi has played for 15 different teams, and is currently player/coach at Colwyn Bay.
13 Rohan Ricketts
Rohan Ricketts is one of football's great nomads, not just because of the number of teams he has played for, but also the number of countries he has played in. He has played for 16 different clubs in 10 different countries, these are; England, Hungary, Moldova, Germany, Ireland, India, Ecuador, Thailand, Canada and the United States. A product of the Arsenal youth academy, Ricketts made the unusual move across North London to rivals Tottenham, before a series of loans and subsequently becoming one of the games best-known journeymen. In January 2015 he moved to Hong Kong, joining Eastern Sports Club.
One of the most skillful players of his generation, Rivaldo won both the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1999, as well as winning titles in Brazil, Spain, Italy, Greece, Uzbekhistan and the Champions League and World Cup. Part of the formidable "Three R's", made up of himself, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, he is Brazil's seventh highest all-time scorer. In a remarkable 23-year career which only ended in 2014, aged 42, Rivaldo played for 16 clubs in six different countries.
11 Marcus Bent
Between 1995 and 2012, Marcus Bent played for 16 different teams, racking up transfer fees totaling over £10 million. Capped at England U21 level, Bent spent the majority of his career in the Premier League, but never played more than 70 games for one team. Never a prolific striker, Bent scored a total of 113 goals in 574 games, before retiring in 2012, after a short spell with Indonesian side Mitra Kukar FC.
10 Guy Branston
A stalwart of the English lower leagues, Guy Branston turned out for over 20 different clubs, most notably Rotherham. Twenty jobs, that's almost as many as Homer Simpson had had. Promoted on five occasions, and voted into the PFA Team of the Year once, Branston was regarded as a solid and reliable centre-back, although you could never rely on him to hang about for long, as his nomadic instincts continued to get the better of him. Between 2007 and 2012, in just five years, he played for a remarkable nine clubs.
9 Steve Claridge
Now a pundit for BBC Sport, Steve Claridge had a hugely varied career lasting an incredible 29 years. Over that period, Claridge played over 1,000 professional or semi-professional football matches, scoring in excess of 250 goals. In 1997, he won the League Cup with Leicester City. When Claridge definitively hung up his boots in 2012. In his 29-year career, he had played for over 20 different teams, including 19 in the football league.
8 Drewe Broughton
An imposing striker, Drewe Broughton was known for his strength and stature, and played in every division in England between the top and eighth tier. In 16 years, he played 482 games, scoring 91 goals and playing for 21 different clubs. Broughton played 10 or less games for 12 of those teams, with his longest spells coming at Kidderminster and Rotherham. Hopefully he kept a suitcase packed at all times, because it would get really frustrating to repack that many times.
7 Frank Worthington
One of the game's great eccentrics, Frank Worthington was a skillful forward who never wore shin-pads and played eight8 games for the England National Team. Born into a footballing family, both Worthington's parents played football, as did both his brothers and his nephew. Playing well into his 40s, Worthington played in the U.S., South Africa, Sweden and his native England. In 24 years, he played for 24 clubs, playing over 800 games and scoring over 250 goals.
6 Richard Pacquette
A product of the Queens Park Rangers academy, Richard Pacquette is one of the most nomadic players in the history of the game. Since breaking into the QPR first team in 2000, Pacquette has played for 24 different teams, playing less than 10 games for 17 of those teams. Still only 32, there is a chance Pacquette could play for more teams than any other professional footballer when he does finally retire. His is probably one jersey you would not want to buy if he plays for your team (unless you want a rare collector's item).
5 John Burridge
English goalkeeper John Burridge played for an astonishing 29 different clubs in England and Scotland in a 28-year career, between 1969 and 1997. Burridge has played for 15 English Football League teams, which is an all-time record. Nicknamed Budgie, he played over 750 games in total, playing over 100 games for both Blackpool and Sheffield United. Between 1994 and 1996, Burridge transferred 22 times, playing the same number of games.
4 Trevor Benjamin
Jamaican forward Trevor Benjamin retired last year after 19 years in the game, and having played for 29 teams. Benjamin's most notable spell came with Leicester City in the Premier League, although his career ended up being a myriad of sporadic spells at English non-league sides. Despite playing for England's U21 side, he ended up playing for the Jamaican National Team. Since retiring, Benjamin has released him own brand of goalkeeping gloves.
3 Lutz Pfannenstiel
When it comes to nomadic footballers, few can compare to German goalkeeper Lutz Pfannenstiel. Playing for 25 teams, Pfannenstiel is the only player in the history of football to have played professionally in all six FIFA confederations. He's the Magellan of football, having played all over the world, including some obscure destinations including Namibia, Armenia and Malaysia. Falsely accused of match fixing and once stealing a penguin which he kept in his bathtub, his life is a flavorful one. He retired in 2011 after two years with Ramblers FC in Namibia.
2 Jefferson Louis
"It's like I'm cursed," Jefferson Louis told the Guardian in 2014, having just signed for his 29th club. Since then, Louis has played for another two teams, taking his tally up to 31. Having shown promise as a youngster, Louis has since become the journeyman of all journeymen, racking up an incredible array of league and non-league clubs in England. He currently plays for Wealdstone in the Conference South, but aged 36, there's still a chance Louis could add to that figure of 31 different teams.
1 Rudi Gutendorf
Bizarrely, top of this list, is a nomadic manager, not a player. Ironically, as a player, Gutendorf was a one-club man, spending his entire career at TuS Koblenz. As a manager though, the German was a nomad of epic proportions. Gutendorf has managed 18 different national teams and 15 different club teams, between 1955 and 2003. His work has taken him to Chile, Bolivia, Nepal (twice), Botswana, New Caledonian, Tanzania, Mauritius, Rawanda, Samoa, Iran and many other countries. In 2013, Gutendorf said he was looking to get back into management but the chairman doubted his ability at the age of 86; two years later, Gutendforf seems no closer to landing a job.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!