Defending is one of the hardest skills to master in football. While strikers can miss a plenty of chances and eventually grab a goal to snuff any negativity, defenders simply cannot put a foot wrong. If they do, their mistakes are played on a loop for years, making the mastering of the defensive art incredibly difficult.
In this article, we will be having a look at some of the greatest centre-backs of all time. The selection is made on the basis of skills, consistency, impact on their team, success, big game performances and work rate.
Here are the ten greatest centre-backs of all time.
3. Bobby Moore
West Ham legend, Bobby Moore will always hold a special place in the heart of every England fan. He is 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 with the Hammers.
In one of the best FA Cup finals ever, the Hammers, led by 23-year-old Bobby Moore, came back from being a goal down on two occasions before scoring in the dying minutes of injury to seal a memorable 3-2 victory. Moore played his heart out in that game, and motivated his team to fight against all odds and etch their name in English folklore.
Individually, he was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1964, and the Players’ Player of the World Cup in ’66. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest centre-backs of all time.
2. Paolo Maldini
Very few Italian defenders have come close to matching Paolo Maldini’s undisputed skill. Being a rock in the back line for AC Milan, the Italian went on to achieve greatness in his professional career.
Maldini was a stalwart of over 20 years in AC Milan, driving the Rossoneri to their most successful era in history. Either out wide or in the centre, he was an elegant defender of rare quality and consistency.
The Italy legend represented Milan a remarkable 904 times. He was part of the coveted “Immortals” team of the late 80s and early 90s that comprised of the likes of Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten.
Maldini won an astounding 24 honours at club level – in what was an exceptionally trophy-laden career. He won the European Cup/Champions League on no less than five occasions and is regarded as one of the finest defenders to participate amongst Europe’s elite.
1. Franz Beckenbauer
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. The Bayern Munich legend was a leader, a role model, an avid believer in his philosophies, and moreover a complete footballer.
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.
Beckenbauer went on to win 103 caps for West Germany and he also appeared in three World Cup finals for them. He was influential in guiding his team to a World Cup triumph in 1974 and achieved the same feat as head coach sixteen years later. He also won the European championship in 1972.
Individually, Beckenbauer was a four time winner of German Footballer of the Year and a two-time Ballon d’Or winner. He was voted as the third greatest player of the 20th century, and the second greatest European player of the 20th century, losing out to Johan Cruyff.