Top 10 Best defenders in history
10. Ronald Koeman (NED)
It isn’t often a defender is known as much for his goalscoring exploits as his attempts to stop such exploits at the other end of the field, but Ronald Koeman was an exception. His long, sweeping passes and powerful shots provided the base from which the likes of Marco van Basten thrived.
9.John Charles (WAL)
Rarely does a player come along that can perform well in two completely different positions. John Charles may be the only player who could make a top ten of all-time list in both those two positions.
Charles was just as effective a centre-forward as he was a centre-back, as his goalscoring record shows. He is still considered a legend in both Leeds and Turin, where he played his best football. He is a three-time Serie A winner, a two-time Italian Cup winner, and a two-time Welsh Cup winner.
8.Fabio Cannavaro (ITA)
What he lacks in height, Fabio Cannavaro makes up for in sheer quality. At 35 he is still going strong for Real Madrid, demonstrating just why he was the first, and so far only, defender to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
During his career, Cannavaro has won two Serie A titles, which were later stripped of him due to the match-fixing scandal, two Italian Cups, a UEFA Cup, and two La Liga titles.
7.Gaetano Scirea (ITA)
Just creeping in ahead of his fellow countryman is Gaetano Scirea, a player who kept Franco Baresi out of the Italian side for four years despite his advancing age. He is also one of a just five players to have won every continental club trophy recognised by UEFA and FIFA.
That means he has won the European Cup, UEFA Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup, European Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup. To add to this already impressive list he has won seven Serie A titles and two Italian Cups.
6.Billy Wright (ENG)
Perhaps the greatest captain England have ever had, Billy Wright was the first player in world football to win 100 caps for his country. He went on to win 105, 90 of which were as captain.
5. Jose Santamaria (URU)
Jose Santamaria is one of very few players to have featured for two national sides—Uruguay and Spain—and even fewer can match his trophy haul. He was a key part of Real Madrid’s great side of the late ’50s and early ’60s, proving himself to be every bit as important as Alfredo Di Stefano or Ferenc Puskas.
He won the Uruguayan league title five times before moving to Madrid, where he continued to collect silverware, including five league titles, a Spanish Cup, and four European Cups.
Daniel Passarella (ARG)
Much like Ronald Koeman, Passarella was a defender with an uncanny eye for goal. In fact, with 182 goals in 556 matches, he was the highest scoring defender ever until Koeman came along.
He won the Argentinian Premier League four times, but was most successful at international level. His presence on the pitch reflected the political issues surrounding Argentina at the time, and he was named captain for the 1978 World Cup, which Argentina won
Franco Baresi (ITA)
The third Italian on the list, Franco Baresi played for AC Milan his entire career, helping the likes of Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta develop into the great players they became.
He won six Serie A titles during his career, as well as three European Cups. In 1990, he was the top scorer in the Italian Cup, and was also named the Serie A Player of the Season.
Bobby Moore (ENG)
Bobby Moore will always hold a special place in the heart of any England fan. He will remain, it seems, for the foreseeable future the only English player to have captained his country to victory in the World Cup.
Pele considers him the greatest defender he ever played against, as, I’m sure, do many others. In his career he won the aforementioned World Cup, as well as a Cup Winners’ Cup and an FA Cup.
Franz Beckenbauer (GER)
There was only really one choice for number one. Franz Beckenbauer dominated any defence he was in. His leadership made him a prime candidate for captaincy and his elegance made it look like he found even the toughest of tasks easy.
He was perhaps the most important part of the great Bayern Munich side of the early ’70s, winning four Bundesliga titles, four German Cups, a Cup Winners’ Cup, and three consecutive European Cups. Later, at Hamburg, he was to win another Bundesliga title.