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16.0k voters

The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time

Updated November 22, 2019 147.4k votes 16.0k voters 260.5k views452 items

List RulesOnly defense players, no mid-fielders. Please rank the players based on their on-field accomplishments

The best soccer players of all time aren't always the ones right in the action, sometimes all it takes is a step back and a bit of appreciation to realize that the grunts who are defending the goal are the best. These best football defenders (as they're called everywhere besides the US) are in the ranks of the best athletes in the world, and have earned their spots by being the best footballers in the world.

What are the qualities of the best defenders in soccer? These men are equal parts the best defense men in soccer, the top players in soccer, and the best conditioned athletes in the sport of soccer. To truly be the greatest, defenders must be quick runners and possess the ability to kick the ball FAR, all the way to the other side of the field. Defensive soccer players must also have a mastery of fancy footwork - lest they let an offensive player weave past them. All these factors and more combine to determine who should be called the best defenders in soccer.

Who are the best soccer defenders of all time? Who are the top defenders in soccer? Who are the best football defenders of all time? SO MANY QUESTIONS, all which need to be answered in this compilation of the top soccer defenders ever. If your favorite soccer player in the position of defender isn't on the list, make sure to add them so others can vote for them as the best football defender ever. If you don't add them, they won't get any play.
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  • 1
    6,422
    1,100
    Paolo Cesare Maldini (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpaːolo malˈdiːni]; born 26 June 1968) is an...  more

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  • 2
    3,140
    1,521
    Franco Baresi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈfraŋko baˈreːzi; -eːsi]; born 8 May 1960) is an...  more
  • 3
    3,658
    1,153
    Franz Anton Beckenbauer (pronounced [ˈfʁants ˈbɛkn̩ˌbaʊɐ]; born 11 September 1945) is a German...  more

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  • 4
    2,295
    1,069

    Cafu

    Brazil
    Marcos Evangelista de Morais (born 7 June 1970), known as Cafu [kaˈfu], is a Brazilian former...  more

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  • 5
    1,437
    964

    Bobby Moore

    United Kingdom
    Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore OBE (12 April 1941 – 24 February 1993) was an English...  more

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    #5 of 200 The Best Soccer Players from United Kingdom#1 of 1,058 The Best Soccer Players from England

  • 6
    920
    562

    Cesare Maldini

    Italy
    Cesare Maldini (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtʃeːzare malˈdiːni, ˈtʃɛː-]; 5 February 1932 – 3...  more
  • 7
    1,076
    898

    Frank Rijkaard

    Netherlands
    Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfrɑŋk ˈrɛi̯kaːrt] (listen); born 30...  more
  • 8
    Giacinto Facchetti (Italian pronunciation: [dʒaˈtʃinto fakˈketti]; 18 July 1942 – 4 September...  more
  • 9
    111
    60
    Pietro Rava (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpjɛːtro ˈraːva]; 21 January 1916 – 5 November 2006) was...  more
  • 10
    690
    600
    Daniel Alberto Passarella (born 25 May 1953) is an Argentine retired footballer who played as...  more
  • 11
    Alessandro "Billy" Costacurta (Italian pronunciation: [alesˈsandro ˈbilli ˌkɔstaˈkurta]; born...  more
  • 12
    84
    33

    Richard Gough

    Sweden, Scotland
    Charles Richard Gough (born 5 April 1962) is a Scottish former footballer, who played as a...  more
  • 13
    3,077
    1,088
    Alessandro Nesta (Italian pronunciation: [alesˈsandro ˈnɛsta]; born 19 March 1976) is a...  more

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    #57 of 1,299 The Best Soccer Players of All Time#1006 of 1,424 The Best Athletes Of All Time

  • 14
    938
    522
    Ruddy Lilian Thuram-Ulien (French pronunciation: ​[li.ljɑ̃ ty.ʁam]; born 1 January 1972) is a...  more

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    #33 of 222 The Best French Soccer Players & Footballers of All Time#95 of 205 Celebrities Born On New Year's Day

  • 15
    339
    271
    Mauro Tassotti (Italian pronunciation: [ˈmauro tasˈsɔtti]; born in Rome, 19 January 1960) is...  more
  • 16
    330
    288
    Fulvio Collovati (Italian pronunciation: [ˈfulvjo kolloˈvaːti]; born 9 May 1957) is an Italian...  more
  • 17
    107
    60
    Roy Leslie McFarland (born 5 April 1948) is an English former football manager and former...  more
  • 18
    2,609
    1,558
    Sergio Ramos García (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈseɾxjo ˈramoz ɣaɾˈθi.a]; born 30 March 1986) is...  more

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    #14 of 49 The Best Real Madrid Midfielders Of All Time#1 of 32 The Best Real Madrid Defenders Of All Time

  • 19
    454
    317

    Giuseppe Bergomi

    Italy
    Giuseppe "Beppe" Bergomi (Italian pronunciation: [dʒuˈzɛppe ˈbɛrɡomi]; born 22 December 1963)...  more
  • 20
    1,325
    866
    Thiago Emiliano da Silva (Brazilian Portuguese: [tʃiˈaɡu ẽmiliˈɐ̃nu dɐ ˈsiwvɐ]; born 22...  more

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  • 21
    276
    262

    Alan Hansen

    United Kingdom
    Alan David Hansen (born 13 June 1955) is a Scottish former football player and BBC television...  more
  • 22
    386
    331

    Claudio Gentile

    Libya, Italy
    Claudio Gentile (Italian pronunciation: [ˈklaudjo dʒenˈtiːle]; born 27 September 1953 in...  more
  • 23
    441
    374

    Lucio

    Brazil
    Lucimar Ferreira da Silva (born 8 May 1978), commonly known as Lúcio, is a Brazilian...  more
  • 24
    248
    194

    Paul Breitner

    West Germany, Germany
    Paul Breitner (born 5 September 1951 in Kolbermoor, Bavaria) is a former German footballer,...  more

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    #42 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players#8 of 31 The Best Bayern Munich Defenders Of All Time

  • 25
    303
    289

    Jürgen Kohler

    West Germany, Germany
    Jürgen Kohler (born 6 October 1965) is a World Cup-winning German footballer and manager, who...  more

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