Football

Top five: All-time centre-backs

Bobby Moore was given a statue of himself outside Wembley (©GettyImages)
Bobby Moore was given a statue of himself outside Wembley (©GettyImages).

With the goalkeeper and full-back roles assigned, it's now time to look at the finest centre-backs to have played the beautiful game. 

This position is epitomised by the power, aggression and tactical precision that every player on this list has been blessed with. 

They are the foundations on what the very best teams are made up of, often going about their work without the glamour and glory associated with other, more attacking, roles. 

1. Franz Beckenbauer (Bayern Munich, New York Cosmos, Hamburger SV & Germany)

This #1 selection was made simply by fact. Beckenbauer is, without doubt, the finest centre-back to have ever lived. His elegance, composure, strength and sheer dominance made him the complete defender, earning him the nickname 'der kaiser' meaning 'the emperor'. 

Winning three consecutive European Cups with Bayern Munich made him the only person to have ever achieved this, as a captain in each year. He made 670 domestic appearances for his club and 103 for West Germany. In his illustrious playing career he picked up five Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokal's, three European Cups, three American League titles, one World Cup and a European Championship. 

The Kaiser has also had a very successful managerial career: being the first individual to win a World Cup as both a player and as a manager.

2. Bobby Moore (West Ham United, Fulham & England)

The real question of this list was who would play alongside Beckenbauer in the greatest team of all time. However, it is clear that there can be no better partner than one of the most dedicated players to have ever worn the three lions, than Bobby Moore. 

His tackle against Jairzinho in the 1970 World Cup is regarded by many to be the most exceptional tackle ever made due to its sheer precision. 

The former West Ham man's greatest achievement is his captaining of England to World Cup glory in 1966.

Beckenbauer himself described Moore as 'the best defender in the history of the game', which goes some way to showing the level of esteem he was held in. 

3. Franco Baresi (AC Milan & Italy)

One of Italy's finest sons, the Piscinin (little one) stayed at Milan for his entire career, demonstrating the abundant levels of loyalty which he bestowed upon the San Siro club. 

His trophy cabinet is also well-stocked after winning six Serie A titles, three Champions Leagues, four Italian Supercoppa's and three European Super Cups. Due to his longevity he helped to train some of Milan's finest individuals such as Alessandro Costacurta and Paulo Maldini. 

4. Billy Wright (Wolverhampton Wanderers & England)

Another individual who was loyalty personified is Wolves hero, Billy Wright. He made over 540 appearances for his boyhood club in total, while also earning 105 caps for England, 90 of which were as captain! Surprisingly enough, however, this is not his most impressive achievement.

In 20 years as a central defender, Wright was never once cautioned or sent off. This speaks volumes of an individual whose tackling and positional play was near perfect. While at Wolves he also won three Division one titles and an FA Cup.

5. Ronald Koeman (Groningen, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Feyenoord & Netherlands)

This Dutch centre-back is unique amongst his peers as he was incredible at shooting as well as tackling. He is the highest scoring defender in history, with a breath-taking 193 goals in 503 league appearances. 

His defensive exploits also gave fellow Dutchman, Marco Van Basten the freedom to thrive. 

It's quite accurate, therefore, to assume that Koeman earned many trophies in his blistering career. In total he gained four Dutch league titles, four Spanish league titles, three Dutch Cups, four Spanish Cups and two European Cups. 

He also achieved great success internationally for Holland, being a part of the European Championship winning side of 1988.

 

Again, this list has been very difficult to narrow down to just five contenders. However, honourable mentions should also go to Daniel Passarella, Gaetano Scirea, Fabio Cannavaro and John Charles. Each of these fantastic talents could have easily made the top five. However, if you on who the greatest ever defenders are, leave your comments below.

 

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