Football

Top five: Greatest right-backs of all time

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Cafu won two World Cups (©GettyImages)
Cafu won two World Cups (©GettyImages).

Seeing as the list for greatest left-back ever was so popular, it appeared fitting to do this for every position, leading up to a final, Super XI of individuals from the past.

Therefore, in continuation of this, it is time to assess the right-back spot. Not often a position that is shrouded in glory, but the individuals in this list have proved what a vital role it really is. 

1. Cafu | Sao Paulo, Real Zaragoza, Palmeiras, Roma, AC Milan & Brazil

Marcos Evangelista de Moraes is rightly known as one of the greatest defenders to have graced the game, making the right-back spot his own, both domestically and for Brazil.

It is difficult to name a trophy that this talented man hasn't won: with two Italian titles, two Italian Super Cups, a Champions League trophy, a UEFA Super Cup and two World Cup victories of 1994 and 2002 to his name.

Although he won the majority of his domestic trophies at Milan, he is quite literally revered at AS Roma, where he is one of only 11 players to have made it into their Hall of Fame.

Cafu's bombing runs along the right flank earned him the nickname Il Pendolino, meaning "the express train". He is also the most-capped Brazilian of all time after making an incredible 142 appearances.

2. Lilian Thuram | Monaco, Parma, Juventus, Barcelona & France

Although the towering defender was often utilised as a centre-back (most notably at Juventus), he still deserves his place in this list, because it was at full-back in which he truly became one of the greats.

Making over 500 appearances domestically and holding the record for all-time French caps (142) attests to Thuram's superb longevity and dedication to the game. His composure, elegance and power made him stand out as one of the best defenders of his generation. 

3. Djalma Santos | Portuguesa, Palmeiras, Atletico Paranaense & Brazil

Consistently voted one of the greatest defenders in Brazilian history, Santos made 964 appearances at domestic level. The only reason he is not higher up this list is because his skills were never tested in modern times or in other leagues.

It is a massive shame that this is the case as this defensive specialist, also proved to have excellent attacking potential: the complete package, one might say. Further evidence of his greatness comes in the fact that only he and Franz Beckenbauer (possibly the greatest defender to have ever lived) have been included in three FIFA World Cups All Star Teams, a massive honour to be sure. He also won two of the four World Cups that he played in.

4. Phil Neal | Northampton Town, Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers & England

Making 900 career appearances is never an easy feat, especially in English football, but this classy defender made it look effortless.

For a full-back he was also near-prolific in front of goal, due to his flawless penalty-taking, attaining 90 goals in total. However, Neal's most impressive achievement of all is his massive haul of silverware.

He was a member of the great Liverpool side of the 1970s and 80s who decimated all opponents. They won eight league titles, five Charity Shields, four League Cups, one UEFA Cup and, most impressively of all, four European Cups - the only Liverpool man to be present at all 4.

5. Gary Neville | Manchester United & England

The former United captain is, perhaps, a controversial inclusion due to the plethora of other talented right-backs. However, Neville stands out for his unswerving loyalty, work-rate and pinpoint crossing.

400 game appearances, nine Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, one Champions League, one FIFA World Club Cup and one Intercontinental Cup makes Neville stand out as a player worthy of his place in this list.

However, honourable mentions should also go to Carlos Alberto, Wim Suurbier, Gianluca Zambrotta and Lee Dixon, all of whom could have reason to believe that they deserve their place on this list.

Therefore, if you disagree, feel free to leave your comments and opinions below.

 

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Gary Neville
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