Best center-back/central defender ever in football

Always a clear view and rock-hard in tackling…that`s why the following central defenders made the top ten of center-backs ever…

10. Rio Ferdinand (Westham United, Leeds United, Manchester United)

Unusually elegant defender for England and Manchster United. Defense benchmark for a couple of years in team with Nemanja Vidic. Very strong physique and ball-winning rate.

Achievements: Champions League victory 2008, six-time Premier League champion
Strengths: Very athletic, good tackling, reading of the game, above average technique for a defender
Weaknesses: Hot temper, banned due to missing a drug test

  • Tackling score: 90%
  • Playmaking score: 80%


9. Roberto Ayala (River Plate, Napoli, Milan, Valencia)

To me he is one of the best defenders of all time! Relentless, ball-winning and mentally strong. Kept the defensive of the Argentinian squad together for many years and was jointly responsible for two Champions League finals for Valencia. Didn`t get enough credit in my opinion.

Achievements: Olympic gold medal 2004, La Liga & Seria A champion, UEFA Cup winner
Strengths: Strong header, tackling, Physicality, ball-winning
Weaknesses: Average technique, speed

  • Tackling score: 95%
  • Playmaking score: 70%


Additional reading: Best defending midfielder ever in football


8. Laurent Blanc (Montpellier, St. Etienne, Auxerre, Barcelona, Marseille, Internazionale, Manchester United)

One of the great defenders of the 90s. Played for Auxerre, Barcelona, Marseille, Inter Milan and Manchester United. But he is most of all remembered for his performances in world cup 1998 on home soil, when France won the title. He scored the important deciding goal in extra-time against Paraguay, the first “golden goal” in world cup history!

Achievements: World cup champion 1998, European champion 2000, Coupe de France, Premier League champion
Strengths: Defense organizer with a clear view, tactical awareness
Weaknesses: Speed

  • Tackling score: 80%
  • Playmaking score: 85%


7. Jerome Boateng (Hertha BSC, Bayern Munich)

Achievements: World Cup champion 2014, Champions League winner 2013, countless national titles in Germany
Strengths: Physicality, Game developement, fast, chip passes
Weaknesses: Brainfarts from time to time

  • Tackling score: 95%
  • Playmaking score: 95%


Additional reading: Best wingers ever in football


6. Carles Puyol (Barcelona)

The spanish legend won several Champions League titles with Barcelona as well as two European and one world cup titles in a row. Not really the best technique, but that isn`t that necessary, he made up for that with his pure will and fighting spirit.

Achievements: World cup and European championship victory three times in a row 2008-2012 with Spanish national squad, pretty much everything with Barca
Strengths: Strong header, ball-winning monster
Weaknesses: Average technique

  • Tackling score: 100%
  • Playmaking score: 65%


5. Fabio Cannavaro (Parma, Internazionale, Juventus, Real Madrid)

One of the handsome Italian defenders 🙂  Took the ladies breath away and exasperated opposing attackers, led his squad to world cup glory in 2006 and was voted best player of that tournament – a very special award, since this one usually goes to offensive players exclusively.

Achievements: World cup champion 2006 as captain, La Liga and Seria A championships
Strengths: Ball-winning, defense organizer, clear view, tactical intelligence
Weaknesses: Shortness, but still good header

  • Tackling score: 95%
  • Playmaking score: 85%


4. Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich)

The freshly crowned world cup champion 2014 has it all and I strongly believe he will climb up the latter of the best defenders ever ranking, he´s still in his prime. Good headers, always a clear view and strong positional play, ball-winning and great ball distribution; strong technique, smart and ambitious. Really hoped hewould stay in Dortmund forever to become a club legend, but he chose to join Bayern Munich to be closer to his family and also better title chances.

Achievements: World cup champion 2014, two-time Bundesliga champion, DFB-Pokal victory
Strengths: Game developement, born leader, techniqe, reading of the game
Weaknesses:  Speed, sometimes fitness level

  • Tackling score: 90%
  • Playmaking score: 100%


Additional reading: Best second forwards ever in football


3. Alessandro Nesta (Lazio, Milan)

Although physically impressive and very athletic, Nesta is regarded as one of the most elegant defenders of all times, let alone best of all times. Very agile, complete, armed with strong technical skills

Achievements: World cup champion 2006, several Seria A championships and cup trophies in Italy
Strengths: Babe-magnet
Weaknesses: Only the second most handsome football player ever

  • Tackling score: 95%
  • Playmaking score: 95%


2. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

The most successful era for Spanish football from 2008 till 2012 had many brillant offensive players with strong ball-control. But these teams also need the fighters that do the work for the artists. Sergio ramos is one of them, very important for the team and should not be underestimated. As important as Xavi, Iniesta or Villa.

Achievements: World cup champion 2008, two-time European championship winner, everything there was to win with Real Madrid
Strengths: Mental beast, strong header, good tackling
Weaknesses: Sometimes too hot temper

  • Tackling score: 100%
  • Playmaking score: 80%


1. Paolo Maldini (Milan)

Women would probably vote him as sexiest football player ever, but to me the Italian defender stands out through very constant solid as rock performances on international level. For nearly two decades Maldini was the anchor in the defense of AC Milan and Italian`s national squad. Additional he was a role model for how a footballer should behave, very fair, no brutal fouls and always in control of his emotions. I have never seen a better defender in football!

Achievements: World cup and European championship runner-up with Italian national squad, five-time Champions League winner, seven-time Seria A champion and many other trophies with Milan
Strengths: Very handsome, tactically astute and intelligent behaviour in duels, the ultimate icon of football
Weaknesses: None, the perfect defender!

  • Tackling score: 100%
  • Playmaking score: 95%
Best central defender ever in football
von Christophe95 (Eigenes Werk) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So who is the best central defender ever in football in your opinion? Or do you concur?










1 Comment

  1. Oh no ? Unbelievable. I can’t see Baresi… I can’t see the second best libero after Kaiser and maybe the best central defender in modern football history…

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