Disclosure: Sportshubnet is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.
In this post, we will check out the top 10 best centre-backs of all time.
Centre backs are the backbone of any successful defense. These players are the unsung heroes of the game, who play a crucial role in protecting their team’s goal and preventing the opposition from scoring.
They are the last line of defense and their ability to read the game, win aerial battles, and tackle opponents are vital skills.
Over the years, some centre backs have stood out and become legends in the sport. These players have been the cornerstone of their teams, leading them to glory and earning the respect of fans and peers alike.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the top 10 best centre backs of all time.
Table of contents
Top 10 Best Centre Backs of all time
10 Ronald Koeman
Ronald Koeman is a Dutch professional football manager and former player. Koeman was skilled at playing both as a defender and as a midfielder.
He often played as a sweeper, although he was equally known for his goalscoring, long-range shooting, and precision from free-kicks and penalties.
He joined Ajax’s rivals PSV Eindhoven in 1986, winning three consecutive Eredivisie titles 1986–87, 1987–88, and 1988–89 and the European Cup in 1988.
Ronald Koeman is one of five European players to ever win a treble with their club and a cup with their national team in the same year.
In 1989, Koeman drove to Barcelona and became part of Johan Cruyff’s team and helped the club to win La Liga four years in a row between 1991 and 1994, and the 1991–92 European Cup. Koeman is number 10 in our list of the top 10 best centre backs of all time.
9 Billy Wright
Billy Wright was an English footballer who played as a center-half. He spent his whole club career at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Billy is the first footballer in the world to achieve 100 international caps, Wright also holds the record for the longest unbroken run in competitive international football.
He also made a total of 105 appearances for England, captaining the side for a record 90 times, including during their campaigns at the 1950, 1954, and 1958 World Cup finals.
Billy made 541 appearances for Wolverhampton Wanderers and cemented his status as the club’s greatest ever player. Billy wright is number 9 in our list of the top 10 best centre backs of all time.
8 Daniel Passarella
Daniel Passarella is an Argentine former professional footballer who played as a centre-back, and former manager of the Argentina and Uruguay national football teams.
He was captain of the Argentina team that won the 1978 World Cup. Passarella was also a talented goalscorer; at one point he was football’s top-scoring defender, with 134 goals in 451 matches.
A record was later broken by Dutch defender Ronald Koeman. In 2004, Passarella was called one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at a FIFA Awards Ceremony.
In 2007, The Times ranked him at number 36 in their list of the 50 hardest footballers in history. He won the Argentinian Premier League four times but was most flourishing at the international level.
7 Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Spain national team. He played as a centre-back for Real Madrid for 16 seasons, whom he captained for six seasons.
He is considered by many experts to be one of the best defenders in football history. Ramos began his career at Sevilla but soon caught the attention of several clubs from across Europe after displaying his talents on the field.
Eventually, he signed for Real Madrid in 2005 where he became an integral part of their backline. Ramos has been named to the FIFPro World11 eleven times; a record for a defender, and the third-most all-time.
He has also been selected to the UEFA Team of the Year nine times, also a record for a defender and the third-most of any player.
Further, Ramos has been named La Liga’s Best Defender a record five times, and to the La Liga Team of the Season in 2015–16. Sergio Ramos is number 7 in our list of the top 10 best centre backs of all time.
6 Fabio Cannavaro
Fabio Cannavaro is an Italian professional football coach and former player. A centre-back, he spent the majority of his career in Italy.
Cannavaro has earned success with the Italy national team. He was part of the Italy team which won consecutive UEFA European Under-21 Championships in 1994 and 1996.
After gaining his first senior cap in 1997, he assisted his national team to the final of UEFA Euro 2000, being named in the team of the tournament, and became a captain in 2002, following Paolo Maldini’s retirement.
Cannavaro also led Italy to victory in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Cannavaro was designated the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, making him the only defender in history to have won the award.
He also won the Ballon d’Or award in 2006 which made him the only defender in history to win the award in a decade and only the third of all time after Franz Beckenbauer and Matthias Sammer.
He spent the majority of his career playing for Parma, Juventus, and Real Madrid. Fabio Cannavaro is number 6 in our list of the top 10 best centre backs of all time.
5 Alessandro Nesta
Alessandro Nesta is an Italian professional football manager and former player. Usually deployed as a centre-back, and is widely regarded as one of the best defenders of all time.
He was best known for his pace, artistic tackles, elegance on the ball, distribution, and tight marking of opponents.
He made a total of 400 Serie A appearances in a 20-year career spread between Lazio and AC Milan, winning domestic and European honors with both clubs.
Nesta is a four-time Serie A Defender of the Nesta and was a fellow of the Italian team that won the 2006 World Cup, and he also depicted the Italian side that reached the final of Euro 2000.
He was a rock in Milan’s defense for nearly two decades, beginning his career with the club at a very young age. Alessandro Nesta is number 5 in our list of the top 10 best centre backs of all time.
4 Gaetano Scirea
Gaetano Scirea was an Italian professional footballer who is regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time.
Scirea is one of only six players in European football history to have won all international trophies for football clubs identified by UEFA and FIFA.
He is also one of only nine players in the history of European football that triumphed in all three major UEFA football competitions, a feat he contained while playing with Juventus.
Scirea became a World Champion with the 1982 FIFA World Cup-winning team, which defeated Brazil 3–2 in a decisive second-round match and Germany 3–1 in the final.
3 Franco Baresi
Franco Baresi is an Italian football youth team coach and a former player and manager. He mostly played as a sweeper or as a central defender and spent his entire 20-year career with Serie A club AC Milan.
Baresi captained the club for 15 seasons. He is regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time and was ranked 19th in World Soccer magazine’s list of the 100 greatest players of the 20th century.
With Milan, he won three UEFA Champions League titles, six Serie A titles, four Supercoppa Italiana titles, two European Super Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups.
Baresi was known for his consistency and longevity, spending the entirety of his career with Milan. He is considered one of Italy’s greatest defenders along with Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, Giuseppe Bergomi, and Antonio Cabrini.
He was a component of the Italian squad that won the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Baresi was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
2 Bobby Moore
Bobby Moore was an English professional footballer. He most notably played for West Ham United, captaining the club for more than ten years, and was the captain of the England national team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup.
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders in the history of football and was cited by Pelé as the greatest defender that he had ever played against.
Moore played over 600 games for West Ham during a 16-year tenure, winning the FA Cup in 1963–64 and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1964–65.
During his time at the club, he won the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1964 and the West Ham Player of the Year in 1961, 1963, 1968, and 1970.
Moore was best understood for his reading of the game and mastery to predict opposition movements. He was a brilliant player and he won many things for his country.
1 Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer is a German former professional footballer and manager. In his playing career, he was nicknamed Der Kaiser (“The Emperor”) because of his extravagant style, domination, and supervision on the field.
Beckenbauer emerged 103 times for West Germany and played in three FIFA World Cups and two European Championships.
He is one of three men, along with Brazil’s Mário Zagallo and France’s Didier Deschamps, to have won the World Cup as a player and as a manager; he lifted the World Cup trophy as captain in 1974 and reiterated the feat as a manager in 1990.
At the club level with Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1967 and three consecutive European Cups from 1974 to 1976.
He is known for being one of the best players in history and he was also a great coach. Individually, Beckenbauer was a four-time winner of German Footballer of the Year and a two-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Inbox looking a bit bland?
Better sign up to our blog to cram it full of trending Sports, Gaming & Tech updates.
You must be logged in to post a comment Login