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10 greatest defenders of the 21st century

Abhinav Anand
ANALYST
Modified 13 Sep 2020
Top 5 / Top 10

#7 Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand enjoyed a good career with Manchester United
Rio Ferdinand enjoyed a good career with Manchester United

When Manchester United paid Leeds United €46 million for Rio Ferdinand in 2002, it made him the most expensive defender in the world at that point.

Ferdinand's performances for Manchester United ensured that the price was justified. Regarded as a ball-playing centre-back, the England international's distribution and composure earned praise, while his physicality and athleticism meant that he was a good defender as well.

Ferdinand made more than 450 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United, forming an excellent partnership with Nemanja Vidic. He left the club in 2014, moving to Queens Park Rangers. He retired in 2015 and is currently a television pundit.


#6 John Terry

John Terry is a part of Aston Villa
John Terry is a part of Aston Villa's management team

John Terry is seen by many critics as the greatest English defender of all-time, and it is not hard to see why.

A product of the Chelsea academy, Terry would go on to make more than 700 appearances in all competitions for his beloved club, captaining them in the process. A strong, aggressive player, the England international was fast and aerially dominant, with his leadership ability highly praised by many.

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Terry was named the UEFA Club Defender of the Year three times and was included in the FIFPRO World XI for five consecutive seasons. He spent a season with Aston Villa after leaving Chelsea, before retiring in 2018. The 39-year old is currently a part of the management team at Aston Villa.


#5 Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini is seen by many as the greatest defender of all-time
Paolo Maldini is seen by many as the greatest defender of all-time

Arguably the greatest defender to have played the game of football, Paolo Maldini ranks fifth in this list because he only spent the twilight years of his career in the 21st century.

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A one-club man, Maldini spent his entire playing career with AC Milan, making more than 900 appearances in all competitions since his debut in 1984. Apart from his astounding longevity at the top level, Maldini was an astute defender. As a wing-back, his athleticism and stamina stood out, while as a centre-back, his tenacity and maturity played a vital role.

The Italy international won 25 titles with his beloved club, including five Champions League titles and seven Serie A titles. He is currently the technical director at AC Milan.


#4 Philipp Lahm

Philipp Lahm was the captain of both Bayern Munich and Germany
Philipp Lahm was the captain of both Bayern Munich and Germany

Philipp Lahm might not necessarily have the star quality that many other names in this list might have, but there is no denying his impact and effectiveness as a player.

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Lahm spent his entire playing career with Bayern Munich, barring a loan spell with Stuttgart. A right-back who was renowned for his intelligence, technical skill and leadership ability, Lahm captained both Bayern Munich and the German national team, leading them to World Cup success in 2014.

Guardiola's arrival at Bayern Munich saw the 36-year old being utilised as a midfielder, where he excelled due to his match intelligence and discipline. He won every major accolade with Bayern Munich, retiring in 2017 after making more than 500 appearances in all competitions for the club.


Also Read: Top 10 football teams in the world- Football club ranking September 2020

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Published 13 Sep 2020, 19:16 IST
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