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5 worst defenders in Premier League history

Titus Bramble was ridiculed extensively in his time in the Premier League
Titus Bramble was ridiculed extensively in his time in the Premier League
Modified 04 Apr 2020, 16:58 IST
Top 5 / Top 10

The art of defending cannot be understated, and it remains the priority for many managers as they attempt to build their success upon the players at the back. However, in the 30-year history of the Premier League, many defenders have struggled to cope with the pressure of playing in the grandest stage.

But who are the worst defenders to have ever played in the Premier League during this time? Some have come in for significant fees while others have been thrown in the deep end and not cut the grade at the highest level.

Here are the five worst defenders to ever play in the Premier League.

#5 Claude Davis

Jamaican international Claude Davis representing Derby County
Jamaican international Claude Davis representing Derby County

Staggeringly, Billy Davies spent £3 million on former Preston North End defender Claude Davis when his Derby County side were promoted to the Premier League in July 2007. £3 million may not sound like an astronomical fee today, but in 2007, it certainly was when cash from the Premier League was not consumed efficiently.

Davis had spent many years in the Championship and even played under Davies during his time as North End manager, but his move to the Premier League proved a step too far in 2007. Davies should have known better, as he struggled in the Premier League with Sheffield United the previous season, and his performances regressed during his time at the then-named Pride Park.

He featured just 19 times for Derby throughout the season, and once he was relegated at the end of the season, he never returned to the Premier League. 

Since then, Davis has plied his trade in the lower leagues - most notably with Crawley Town. Many fans look back with terror when they consider Davis featured in the Premier League for two seasons. It's no surprise both those seasons ended in relegation for his respective sides when you consider how awful he indeed was.


#4 Claudio Cacapa

Claudio Cacapa in action for Newcastle
Claudio Cacapa in action for Newcastle

Newcastle United's teams during the late 2000s were some of the worst sides ever to represent the North-East outfit. Considering the gigantic Lyon centre-back came to the Toon with an enormous reputation, fans were left disappointed following his displays under Sam Allardyce, and later others. 

Cacapa was signed on a free from Ligue 1 outfit Lyon, after captaining them to five Ligue 1 championships in a row. The Brazilian, who had become a French national as well by then, found himself a fish out of water in the Premier League.

His frailties on the ball, lack of awareness and inability to command his area coupled with his niggling injuries made his stay at Newcastle one to forget.

Capped by Brazil three times between 2000 and 2001, Cacapa looked a shadow of his former self and failed to deliver the goods in England. When the Magpies were relegated at the end of the 2008-09 season, it was all over for the Brazilian and his English adventures.


Most surprisingly, Cacapa had two seasons in the North East with Newcastle before he returned to Brazil in 2009. It's safe to say the Brazilian defender never lived up to the hype and certainly wasn't an adequate of a player becoming the 1000th Newcastle player to represent the club.

#3 Khalid Boulahrouz

Khalid Boulahrouz: Not your typical number nine
Khalid Boulahrouz: Not your typical number nine

Following two successful title-winning campaigns, Jose Mourinho wanted to reinforce his defensive options and ensure John Terry, and Ricardo Carvalho remained competitive. 

For whatever unbeknownst to everyone except himself, Mourinho believed that Schalke's Dutch international Khaled Boulahrouz was the answer. Unfortunately, him choosing the number nine jersey was the least of his issues, as his lack of ability proved his most significant demise. 

Chelsea coughed up a whopping £8.5 million in the summer of 2006, with Mourinho looking to use the Dutch international to challenge the Terry-Carvalho partnership to ensure the duo remained on top.

The player featured just 13 times in his first season at the club, and if Mourinho had aspirations of him challenging the infamous partnership, it's safe to say Boulahrouz wasn't the answer.

He returned to Germany for a short time before he travelled to various clubs. It proved a costly mistake by Mourinho as it was his defence that let him down in during the 2006-07 season. 


#2 Titus Bramble

Titus Bramble never quite fulfilled the potential people saw in him
Titus Bramble never quite fulfilled the potential people saw in him

Once labelled the future England partner for Rio Ferdinand, it's safe to state that Titus Bramble got nowhere close to achieving his potential.

Bramble first made his name at Ipswich Town under George Burley, before the Suffolk side suffered relegation in 2002. His admirers were not rare, and it was former England manager Sir Bobby Robson who decided he was worthy of £6 million to bring him to St. James's Park in Newcastle.

The defender started his career in the North East relatively successfully, before mistakes and own goals began to appear too frequently. Bramble was regularly shown up and proved somewhat unreliable. Nonetheless, after nearly five seasons at Newcastle, a move to Wigan occurred under Steve Bruce, where he finally looked to have settled and playing at a decent level.

Another big-money move occurred when he returned to Sunderland alongside Steve Bruce to become the bedrock of the backline. Bramble, as he had done throughout his career, became a success before mistakes, own goals, and red cards came to the forefront of his game.

The Englishman had the ability to shine, but his lapses in concentration ultimately proved his downfall.


#1 Frank Sinclair

Frank Sinclair
Frank Sinclair's career was blighted with mistakes

When you look back on the career of Frank Sinclair, there's undoubtedly an element of "what if?". The defender first became a Premier League player following his emergence at Chelsea in 1991.

Sinclair will go down as one of the worst defenders in Premier League history despite being given opportunities to redeem himself. During the 1994 FA Cup Final, he was at fault for Chelsea losing the final to Manchester United, and his career pretty much continued similarly.

His stint at Stamford Bridge saw incredible highs with moments of brilliance. However, much like Titus Bramble, he continued to make headlines as a specialist in mistakes rather than a reliable Premier League defender. Leicester manager Martin O'Neil decided to take a gamble on Sinclair in 2008, and he became a stalwart in the Leicester City side for six years. 

However, two relegations during that time somewhat dampened his reputation, as he was regularly bullied despite his massive frame. Sinclair continued to play professionally until 2015, but the mistakes in his game make him the worst ever Premier League defender.

Published 22 Feb 2017, 20:19 IST
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