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15.7k voters

The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time

Updated November 22, 2019 139.7k votes 15.7k voters 258.3k 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
    Paolo Maldini
    6,843
    1,162

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceMilan, Italy

    Paolo Cesare Maldini (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpaːolo malˈdiːni]; born 26 June 1968) is an... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    Franco Baresi
    3,324
    1,620

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceTravagliato, Italy

    Franco Baresi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈfraŋko baˈreːzi; -eːsi]; born 8 May 1960) is an... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Franz Beckenbauer
    3,856
    1,236

    PositionDefender, Sweeper

    BirthplaceMunich, Germany

    Franz Anton Beckenbauer (pronounced [ˈfʁants ˈbɛkn̩ˌbaʊɐ]; born 11 September 1945) is a German... more on Wikipedia
  • 4
    Cafu
    2,433
    1,111

    Cafu

    Brazil

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceSão Paulo, Brazil

    Marcos Evangelista de Morais (born 7 June 1970), known as Cafu [kaˈfu], is a Brazilian former... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Bobby Moore
    1,521
    990

    Bobby Moore

    United Kingdom

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceBarking, London, United Kingdom

    Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore OBE (12 April 1941 – 24 February 1993) was an English... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Cesare Maldini
    954
    555

    Cesare Maldini

    Italy

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceTrieste, Italy

    Cesare Maldini (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtʃeːzare malˈdiːni, ˈtʃɛː-]; 5 February 1932 – 3... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    Frank Rijkaard
    1,136
    919

    Frank Rijkaard

    Netherlands

    PositionDefender, Midfielder

    BirthplaceAmsterdam, Netherlands

    Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfrɑŋk ˈrɛi̯kaːrt] (listen); born 30... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Giacinto Facchetti
    1,059
    920

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceTreviglio, Italy

    Giacinto Facchetti (Italian pronunciation: [dʒaˈtʃinto fakˈketti]; 18 July 1942 – 4 September... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Daniel Passarella
    715
    611

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceChacabuco, Argentina

    Daniel Alberto Passarella (born 25 May 1953) is an Argentine retired footballer who played as... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Alessandro Costacurta

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceJerago con Orago, Italy

    Alessandro "Billy" Costacurta (Italian pronunciation: [alesˈsandro ˈbilli ˌkɔstaˈkurta]; born... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Fulvio Collovati
    352
    285

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceTeor, Italy

    Fulvio Collovati (Italian pronunciation: [ˈfulvjo kolloˈvaːti]; born 9 May 1957) is an Italian... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Alessandro Nesta
    3,282
    1,169

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceRome, Italy

    Alessandro Nesta (Italian pronunciation: [alesˈsandro ˈnɛsta]; born 19 March 1976) is a... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Mauro Tassotti
    354
    260

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceRome, Italy

    Mauro Tassotti (Italian pronunciation: [ˈmauro tasˈsɔtti]; born in Rome, 19 January 1960) is... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Lilian Thuram
    983
    544

    PositionDefender

    BirthplacePointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe

    Ruddy Lilian Thuram-Ulien (French pronunciation: ​[li.ljɑ̃ ty.ʁam]; born 1 January 1972) is a... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    Luís Pereira
    239
    154

    BirthplaceJuazeiro, Brazil

    Luís Edmundo Pereira (born June 21, 1949) is a retired association footballer. He played... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Giuseppe Bergomi
    473
    317

    Giuseppe Bergomi

    Italy

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceMilan, Italy

    Giuseppe "Beppe" Bergomi (Italian pronunciation: [dʒuˈzɛppe ˈbɛrɡomi]; born 22 December 1963)... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Alan Hansen
    282
    258

    Alan Hansen

    Scotland, United Kingdom

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceSauchie, United Kingdom

    Alan David Hansen (born 13 June 1955) is a Scottish former football player and BBC television... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Lucio
    466
    368

    Lucio

    Brazil

    PositionDefender

    BirthplacePlanaltina, Federal District, Brazil

    Lucimar Ferreira da Silva (born 8 May 1978), commonly known as Lúcio, is a Brazilian... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Sergio Ramos
    2,764
    1,654

    PositionDefender, Midfielder

    BirthplaceCamas, Seville

    Sergio Ramos García (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈseɾxjo ˈramoz ɣaɾˈθi.a]; born 30 March 1986) is... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Claudio Gentile
    402
    334

    Claudio Gentile

    Libya, Italy

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceTripoli, Libya

    Claudio Gentile (Italian pronunciation: [ˈklaudjo dʒenˈtiːle]; born 27 September 1953 in... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    Wim Suurbier
    207
    173

    Wim Suurbier

    Netherlands

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceEindhoven, Netherlands

    Wilhelmus "Wim" Lourens Johannes Suurbier (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋɪm ˈsyːr.ˌbiːr]) (born 16... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    Thiago Silva
    1,413
    891

    PositionDefender, Midfielder

    BirthplaceRio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Thiago Emiliano da Silva (Brazilian Portuguese: [tʃiˈaɡu ẽmiliˈɐ̃nu dɐ ˈsiwvɐ]; born 22... more on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    Ruud Krol
    801
    852

    Ruud Krol

    Netherlands

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceAmsterdam, Netherlands

    Rudolf ("Ruud" or "Rudi") Jozef Krol (born 24 March 1949) is a Dutch retired footballer who... more on Wikipedia

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    #304 of 1,310 The Best Soccer Players of All Time#136 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time

  • 24
    Phil Neal
    210
    200

    Phil Neal

    England

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceIrchester, United Kingdom

    Philip George Neal (born 20 February 1951) is an English retired footballer who played for... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Jürgen Kohler
    308
    297

    Jürgen Kohler

    West Germany, Germany

    PositionDefender

    BirthplaceLambsheim, Germany

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

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    #278 of 329 The Most Obnoxious Athletes#119 of 164 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s