Sports

The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
125k votes 14k voters 237.6k views 318 items

List Rules Only 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.
list ordered by
1
Paolo Maldini is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Italy
Paolo Cesare Maldini is an Italian former footballer who played as a left back or central defender, being adept with either foot although naturally right-footed. He spent all 25 seasons of his ...more
2
Franco Baresi is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Italy
Franco Baresi is an Italian football youth team coach and a former player and manager. He played as a sweeper and as a central defender, and spent his entire 20-year career with Serie A club ...more
3
Franz Beckenbauer is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Germany
Franz Anton Beckenbauer is a German football manager, and former player, nicknamed Der Kaiser because of his elegant style; his leadership; his first name "Franz", and his dominance on ...more
4
Alessandro Nesta is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Italy
Alessandro Nesta, Ufficiale OMRI is an Italian professional footballer. Widely considered to be one of the best centre backs of his time and also as one of the greatest defenders ever, he is ...more
5
Djalma Santos is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Brazil
Djalma Pereira Dias dos Santos known simply as Djalma Santos was a Brazilian footballer who started for the Brazil national team in four World Cups, winning two, in 1958 and 1962. Santos is ...more
6
Cafu is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Brazil
Marcos Evangelista de Morais, known as Cafu, is a Brazilian former professional footballer. He is the most internationally capped male Brazilian player and also made history playing for ...more
7
Mauro Ramos is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Andrea Pillerè added Brazil
Mauro Ramos, full name Mauro Ramos de Oliveira, was an association footballer. He played centre-back for São Paulo F.C., Santos F.C. and the Brazilian national team. He received 30 caps ...more
8
Roberto Rosato is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Zicopoust added Italy
Roberto Rosato was an Italian footballer, who played as a defender. A strong, consistent, hard-tackling, and tenacious man-marking centre-back, he is regarded as one of the greatest and most ...more
9
Ruud Krol is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Netherlands
Rudolf Jozef Krol is a retired Dutch footballer who was capped 83 times for his native country. Most of his career he played for his home town club, Ajax, and he became a coach after retirement. ...more
10
Frank Rijkaard is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Netherlands
Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard is a Dutch football manager and former player. Rijkaard has played for Ajax, Real Zaragoza and Milan, and represented his national side 73 times, scoring 10 goals. In ...more
11
Carlos Alberto Torres is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Brazil
Carlos Alberto Torres is a former Brazilian footballer. He is widely regarded as one of the best defenders of all time. He captained Brazil national team to victory in the 1970 World Cup, ...more
12
Leovegildo Lins da Gama Júnior is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Brazil
Leovegildo Lins da Gama Júnior, known simply as Júnior or Léo Júnior, is a Brazilian former professional footballer who played as a midfielder. He was named by ...more
13
Giacinto Facchetti is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Italy
Giacinto Facchetti was an Italian football player. From January 2004 until his death, he was President of Internazionale, the club for which he played for his whole career during the 1960s and ...more
14
Elías Figueroa is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Chile
Elías Ricardo Figueroa Brander is a former football player from Chile. He is considered the best Chilean footballer of all time, as well as one of the greatest defenders ever to play the ...more
15
Fabio Cannavaro is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Italy
Fabio Cannavaro, Ufficiale OMRI is an Italian football coach and former player who is currently the head coach of Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande. He is considered to be one of the greatest ...more
16
Roberto Carlos is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Brazil
Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha, more commonly known simply as Roberto Carlos, is a retired Brazilian footballer and current manager of Turkish league club Akhisar Belediyespor. He started his ...more
17
Cesare Maldini is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
veterancw added Italy
Cesare Maldini is a football manager and former player with A.C. Milan. A commanding defender, with good technique and an excellent ability to read the game, he was usually deployed as a centre ...more
18
Bobby Moore is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
United Kingdom
Robert Frederick Chelsea "Bobby" Moore OBE was an English professional footballer. He captained West Ham United for more than ten years and was captain of the England team that won the ...more
19
Tarcisio Burgnich is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Italy
Tarcisio Burgnich is a former Italian football defender; he was capable of playing any defensive position, being adept as a sweeper, as a centre-back, and also as a full-back on the right. He ...more
20
Carles Puyol is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Spain
Carles Puyol i Saforcada is a Spanish retired footballer. Mainly a central defender he could also play on either flank, especially as a right back. He served as the longtime team captain for his ...more
21
Daniel Passarella is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Argentina
Daniel Alberto Passarella is an Argentine retired footballer who played as a centre back, and former manager of the Argentina and Uruguay national football teams. He was captain of the Argentina ...more
22
Marius Trésor is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
France
Marius Trésor is a retired football defender from France, who was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers. Trésor's career began with the French club ...more
23
Philipp Lahm is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
West Germany, Germany
Philipp Lahm is a German professional footballer who plays as a full back or defensive midfielder for Bayern Munich and formerly for the German national team. He is the captain of his club, ...more
24
Manuel Sanchís Hontiyuelo is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
Andrea Pillerè added Spain
Manuel 'Manolo' Sanchís Hontiyuelo is a Spanish retired footballer who played as a sweeper. A part of the famous Quinta del Buitre which stemmed from the Real Madrid youth ranks, he was ...more
25
Miodrag Belodedici is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time
MariusCeasuri added Romania
Miodrag Belodedici is a Romanian retired footballer who played as a sweeper. Nicknamed the deer due to his elegant tackles, he spent the majority of his 19-year professional career with Steaua ...more