10 most prolific goal-scoring defenders of all-time
- A look at ten all-time top goal-scoring defenders in football.
- A few of these players have won big titles for both club and country.
Defenders are the last line of defence in front of the goalkeeper and by definition they are expected to stop goals from going in. Decisive interceptions, clean tackling and an impeccable reading of the game are the hallmarks of a world-class defender. However, any other attributes are a welcome bonus.
One of the most desirable secondary qualities in a defender is the ability to score goals. At the end of the day it is goals that win a game. Defenders are always a threat from set-piece situations. But what sets apart a goal-scoring defender from his peers is his ability to find the back of the net from open play.
It should come as no surprise that there have been a few defenders who have proven themselves to be psuedo-goal-machines for their teams. Some of these players have even breached the 100-goal barrier in their careers.
On that note, we take a look at ten of the best goal-scoring defenders to have ever stepped out on to a football pitch.
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8. Franz Beckenbauer – 109 goals
Credited with inventing the 'sweeper' position that revolutionised the role of a central defender, Franz Beckenbauer was a player who was decades ahead of his time.
One of the greatest and most successful players in the game's history, Beckenbauer possessed an unbelievable range of passing for a defender. One of the most elegant players in his position, the former German international's creativity can be attributed to the fact that he started his career as a midfielder.
The player, also known as Der Kaiser because of his style, dominance and leadership on the field, went on to score 109 times in his 19-year-long career. Most of his goals came with his boyhood club Bayern Munich, for whom he scored 64 goals in 439 appearances.
He enjoyed a highly successful career with both club and country. Beckenbauer is one of three players to have won the FIFA World Cup both as a player and a manager.
7. Sergio Ramos - 111 goals
We have another World Cup winner at the ninth position in our list. The name is that of Real Madrid and Spain captain Sergio Ramos. He is one of the best active players in his position. Ramos is as feared for his goal-scoring prowess as he is for his aggression on the pitch.
The former Sevilla player is adept from set-piece situations, having scored several crucial headers for Los Blancos during his career. Ramos's 93rd-minute equaliser against fierce rivals Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final forced extra time before Madrid lifted their La Decima following a 4-1 extra-time win.
Ramos' recent spike in his goal tally can be attributed to the fact that he has assumed penalty duties for Madrid since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure. The central defender has also taken spotkicks for his country in recent years and he doesn't miss too many from the spot.
Ramos has an impressive conversion rate of 23 goals from 26 penalties for club and country. Since missing from the spot in a Liga game against Sevilla in 2017-18, the 34-year-old has scored 15 successful penalties for club (12) and country (3).
Having scored 111 goals in club and international football, Ramos (91) is on course to become the 17th Madrid player to score a century of goals in all competitions.
Ramos' 21 goals for La Furia Roja is the ninth-best by any player to have scored for the 2010 FIFA World Cup champions.
T6. Roberto Carlos - 113 goals
One of the defenders renowned for his goal-scoring penchant is former Brazil star Roberto Carlos. With a hammer of a left-foot and the physics-defying free-kicks it unleashed, Carlos has scored many a memorable goal for club and country.
Carlos, who is considered one of the all-time great attacking full-backs, has a goal-scoring record to back up the same. He amassed most of his goals from set-pieces and free-kicks. The bulk of Carlos' goals came during his time with Los Blancos where he was a valuable member of the Galacticos.
Carlos scored 113 goals for club and country. With dozens being absolute gems, it is pretty nigh impossible to choose the pick of the bunch.
T6. Paul Breitner – 113 goals
Though less renowned than his Germany and Bayern Munich colleague Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner actually managed to bag more goals than Der Kaiser.
Well, Breitner did move to midfield in the later stages of his career, but most of his goals did come from the deep. He was known for his toughness, energy, ability to react quickly, extreme level of fitness and a willingness to shoot.
Breitner is one of just four players to have scored in multiple FIFA World Cup finals (1974, 1982), the others being Vava of Brazil (1958, 1962), Pele of Brazil (1958, 1970) and France's Zinedine Zidane (1998, 2006).
T6. Steve Bruce - 113 goals
Unlike most of the players in this list, he was not the fastest or the most technically-gifted .But Bruce was known to be a brave defender who put in impressive efforts to win headers in the final third, akin to John Terry. Besides, his efficacy from the penalty spot helped him rake up goals.
It is almost criminal that despite being a great defender and a decent goal-scorer, Bruce never played international football. Else he would have ended his career with more than the 113 goals he has to his name.
5. Graham Alexander - 130 goals
Former Scotland international Graham Alexander had a long playing career that spanned over a quarter century. He played predominantly as a right-back and, like many others in this list, was a penalty specialist.
Alexander played in four different tiers of English football for five different teams, He also featured in a season of Premier League football with Burnley in 2009-10, scoring seven goals that season, before Burnley were relegated to the Championship.
However, despite his impressive tally of 130 goals in club football, Alexander failed to open his account in 40 international games played for Scotland
4. Laurent Blanc - 153 goals
A fairly successful manager, Laurent Blanc was also a successful player in his playing days.
The Frenchman underwent two positional changes as a player. Starting out as a midfielder, a 25-year-old Blanc played as a defender at Montpellier.
This change proved a game-changer for Blanc as he evolved into a classy ball-playing defender, while still regularly finding the back of the net. The 1998 FIFA World Cup winner scored a career-best 18 goals in all competitions in the 1986-87 campaign.
As they say, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. Even though Blanc gave up his position as a midfielder, his goal-scoring instincts didn't abate.
He would go on to score 153 goals in all competitions for club and country before calling it a day.
3. Fernando Hierro - 163 goals
Fernando Hierro is a Real Madrid legend and one of the finest players to have ever donned the club's famous white jersey.
Undoubtedly, he was one of the last great Spanish players in the club's ranks and is fondly remembered by the Santiago Bernebau faithful as a true leader.
The centre-back had a commanding physical presence at the backline for his team. But Hierro could also use his physicality at the other end of the pitch. The Spaniard was a threat from setpieces and had a penchant to score glorious headers as well.
Such was Hierro's goal-scoring prowess that at one point of time, he held the record of being the top scorer for La Furia Roja. His 30 goals for Spain stands him in fifth-place in the country's all-time top-scorer list.
During an illustrious career, Hierro registered 163 goals for club and country. Like former Real Madrid striker Raul, only a lack of silverware with his country blights his imperious legacy.
2. Daniel Passarella - 175 goals
Argentina legend Daniel Passarella stood a modest 5 ft 8 inches, but he is one of the greatest centre-backs to have ever played for La Alibiceleste. Passarella made up for his diminutive stature by his passion, exceptional leadership and organisational skills. His goal-scoring threat also made him an invaluable player for country and clubs.
The left-footed defender was an excellent free-kick and penalty taker. His heading ability was also one of his assets, which was a surprise given his average physique.
Passarella was the captain of the Argentina team that won the 1978 World Cup. Eight years later, he became the only Argentine to win the quadrennial tournament on multiple occasions.
He earned the nickname of El Gran Capitán because of his on-field supremacy. Passarella was the top-scoring defender in the world for a brief period before the player who tops our list surpassed the former Argentine captain.
1. Ronald Koeman - 253 goals
When it comes to goal-scoring defenders, Ronald Koeman is in a league of his own with a staggering tally of 253 goals for club and country.
Koeman was an epitome of a sweeper who would make runs deep into the opposition territory. With the long-range precision that he possessed he did not think twice before unleashing strikes at goal.
Though his incredible tally of goals was boosted by his penalty and free-kick duties, his 253 goals as a full-time defender is the hallmark of a brilliant player.
Despite making waves in the Eredivisie, it was at Barcelona that Koeman reached his peak under the tutelage of his illustrious Dutch compatriot Johan Cruyff. Koeman played a pivotal role in Barca's first success in the Champions League in 1992, where he also scored the winning goal.
With eight goals, Koeman was the joint top-scorer in the 1993-94 Champions League campaign, becoming the first and only defender to achieve the coveted feat.