In the event you shut your eyes and film developing in opposition to a central defender, likelihood is you’re envisioning a snarling, foaming on the mouth, wide-eyed large effectively above common top, lacking at the very least a couple of tooth and with sharp elbows.
However, in actuality, a number of the finest within the enterprise have been sleek, elegant, ball-playing geniuses who wouldn’t have regarded misplaced in central midfield. True, centre-backs are sometimes fearless warriors who will put their our bodies on the road. However they’re additionally thinkers, astute readers of the sport, inspirational leaders and never completely above six toes tall.
Some stellar examples right this moment are Sergio Ramos, Virgil van Dijk and Mats Hummels. However all through the annals of time who can really be thought of the perfect of the perfect?
From Tier one-four, we look at eight of the perfect with the stipulation they should be retired.
TIER 1
FRANZ BECKENBAUER

Few footballing nicknames have been extra becoming than the one bestowed upon German and Bayern Munich behemoth, Beckenbauer – “Der Kaiser” (The Emperor).
The legendary German guidelines all centre-back’s that got here earlier than or after him. His grit, guile and beauty was in contrast to something that had been seen beforehand from gamers considered primarily as lumbering, uncoordinated oafs.
A midfielder in his youth, Beckenbauer made his title as a central defender and is credited with the invention of the sweeper – or Libero – function. He was one of many first defenders to own an all-round sport, in a position to break up play and spark his personal group’s assaults.
A two-time Ballon d’Or winner (1972 & 76), he was the primary defender to win the award.
He gained the 1974 World Cup as a participant and guided Die Mannschaft to 1990 glory as coach – considered one of solely three males to win it as each participant and supervisor. He additionally gained three consecutive European Cups with Bayern from 1974-76.
FRANCO BARESI

Like Beckenbauer, Baresi – generally known as “Kaiser Franz” later in his profession in homage to his fellow sweeper – was a trailblazer; a participant considerably forward of his time who embodied all the pieces nice and wonderful in regards to the function of centre-back.
The Italian icon was a warrior, a superb tackler and highly effective battler who defied his 5’ 9” body. He mixed tenacity with class, imaginative and prescient, athleticism, immense positional sense and a superb studying of the sport with excellent management and professionalism.
He performed his total 20-year profession with the Rossoneri, lifting six Scudettos within the well-known pink and black shirt, in addition to captaining Milan to a few European Cups. Received a 1982 World Cup-winners medal with the Azzurri, with whom he completed third in 1990 and second in 1994.
Completed second solely to clubmate Marco van Basten within the 1989 Ballon d’Or voting. Together with Paolo Maldini, the one Milan participant to have his jersey quantity retired.
TIER 2
BOBBY MOORE 

“A man who stands half a step above all other English footballers,” is how Guardian journalist Richard Williams described Moore in 2014.
Moore captained England to their solely World Cup triumph in 1966, aged solely 25, and went on to characteristic 108 instances for the Three Lions. He stays the fifth most capped England participant ever.
Moore was finest recognized for his studying of the sport and skill to anticipate opposition actions, distancing himself from the picture of the hard-tackling, high-jumping hatchet males so prevalent throughout his days.
Described by Pele as the best defender he ever performed in opposition to, he was labelled the “best defender in the history of the game” by the person truly thought of the perfect defender within the historical past of the sport, Beckenbauer.
Moore, who had the center title Chelsea, performed almost 650 video games for an additional London membership, West Ham, over 16 seasons, lifting the FA Cup with the Hammers in 1964 and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup a 12 months later.
FABIO CANNAVARO

How about this for a maiden second within the highlight. Throughout a coaching session as an aspiring younger centre-back at Napoli, 18-year outdated Cannavaro put in a crunching sort out on Diego Maradona. His recklessness angered his coaches however happy El Pibe de Oro (The Golden Boy), who later introduced his boots to Cannavaro.
Cannavaro, a transformed winger, was a ball boy when Maradona led the Partenopei to their maiden Scudetto in 1986/87.
Standing simply 5’ 9” he possessed immense aerial prowess, athleticism, timing and intelligence. His model of play was characterised by tigerish energy, physicality and never-say-die perspective, and his capacity to encourage these round him singled him out as a real chief.
By no means extra so was this evident than when he galvanised a nationwide group ravaged by the Calciopoli scandal that engulfed Italy in the summertime of 2006.
He however captained the Azzurri to World Cup triumph, and was awarded the Ballon d’Or that very same 12 months – solely the third defender to win it after Beckenbauer and Matthias Sammer.
TIER 3
DANIEL PASSARELLA 

A vibrant profession that included main Argentina to their maiden World Cup triumph in 1978, Passarella’s old-fashioned values of laborious work and self-discipline clashed with the liberty and religious nature of a brand new La Albiceleste technology led by Maradona.
A stickler for guidelines, but revelations from Maradona revealed El Gran Capitan usually jetted off to Monaco to hold on an affair with a nationwide teammate’s spouse, whereas throughout his post-playing days he grew to become president of boyhood membership River Plate, solely to go away in shame amid allegations of fraud in 2013.
On the sphere, nonetheless, Passarella was peerless, once more dismissing the notion you needed to be tall to make it. He was solely 5’ 8” however was an excellent header of the ball, intimidating chief and prolific goal-scorer. A consummate penalty taker, he netted 175 objectives in 521 video games and is the sport’s second-highest ever scoring defender behind Ronald Koeman’s 253.
If it wasn’t for Maradona and Lionel Messi, Passarella would in all probability be famend as his nation’s best ever product.
JOSE SANTAMARIA 

Santamaria loved a storied profession that took in a large number of titles at each Nacional in Uruguay, in addition to with Actual Madrid.
Born in Montevideo to Spanish immigrants who’d moved to South America on the flip of the century, Santamaria earned 20 caps for La Celeste and reached the 1954 World Cup semi-finals earlier than incomes an additional 16 caps for Spain and that includes on the 1962 World Cup for La Roja following his transfer to Actual in 1957.
Santamaria earned the nickname ‘The Wall’ throughout a profession which began out as a sublime defensive midfielder, however he was pushed again into defence in 1950 by Nacional supervisor Enrique Fernandez, who famous Santamaria’s power, energy and organisational abilities.
Already winners of the primary two European Cups, the presence of the Uruguayan herded Actual to a few extra successive triumphs and 4 in whole throughout 11 seasons and greater than 450 appearances.
TIER 4
RONALD KOEMAN 

Essentially the most prolific goalscoring defender ever, Koeman rocketed in an unbelievable 239 objectives in 685 membership appearances. An extra 14 within the well-known Oranje shirt means he stands on 253 whole objectives – 78 greater than Passarella in second place.
Koeman excelled within the sweeper place. He was an adroit lengthy vary passer of the ball and was recognized for each his capturing accuracy and energy.
Throughout his 17 seasons at membership degree he solely didn’t enter double figures for objectives on 4 events, netting a panoramic 26 strikes in 46 video games for PSV in 1987/88.
He moved to Barcelona in 1989, changing into a part of compatriot Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’, serving to the Blaugrana win La Liga 4 years in a row and the 1992 European Cup, scoring the profitable aim as Sampdoria had been crushed 1-Zero within the closing.
He held the Barca file for many free-kicks scored (26) till Messi overtook him two years in the past.
Captained the Netherlands on the 1994 World Cup and a European Championship winner with them in 1988.
ALAN HANSEN 

Liverpool claimed a sixth European Cup in Might, however an English top-flight title drought stretches right into a 30th season. It’s no coincidence the final time the Reds tasted glory, skipper Hansen was on the coronary heart of their success.
He’s thought of probably the greatest defenders of his period and usually seems in top-10 Liverpool gamers of all time discussions and all-time XIs.
He retired after being unable to play a single sport in 1990/91 as a result of damage – the Reds went trophyless for under the third time since Hansen’s arrival, 14 years earlier.
The Scotsman’s studying of the sport and positioning had been supreme and in his 14 seasons at Anfield he gained eight first division titles and three European Cups.
Hansen was the most recent in a protracted line of good Liverpool centre-backs – going again to Ron Yeats, Emlyn Hughes and Phil Thompson. However he’s revered above all of them – celebrated for sparking assaults with the category as Moore or Beckenbauer, and blessed with the passing accuracy of a midfielder.

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