5 of the greatest centre-backs of all time
A look through the history of football tells the story of why the world has fallen in love with the “Beautiful Game”. Surprises, last-minute drama, great goalscorers (and terrible ones), captivating skills, life-threatening injuries, plucky underdogs, dynastic teams, football fans have seen it all
One of the most common features of football teams worldwide has always been the presence of a dominant centre-back.
Irrespective of the footballing culture, ideology, philosophy or desires of teams and coaches, every team; great and mediocre has/will always have the need for a good centre-back.
Looking closely at the history of league games, continental championships (club and national level) and the World Cup, it is almost impossible to highlight a team that has done well without the presence of at least one quality centre-back.
Over the years, the world has witnessed great men at the back who have superbly marshalled their teams' defence lines and have given their all (sometimes to the point of physical injury).
Here is a look at five of the greatest centre-backs in the history of football:
#5 Daniel Passarella (Argentina)
Major Clubs: River Plate (twice), Fiorentina, Internazionale
Undoubtedly the greatest South American centre-back of all time, Daniel Passarella was the gold standard for hard tackling defenders.
One of the most amazing things to note about El Gran Capitán as he was known by fans and admirers was his height. For a centre-back in the 70s, he was quite short (standing at 1.73 m or 5 feet, 8 inches).
However, what he lacked in height, he more than made up for in athleticism, ability, and sheer grit.
Renowned for his tough-tackling, no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners style, Passarella was a difficult man to beat. Fast over short distances, supremely good in the air and blessed with a keen understanding of the art of defending, he was a coach's dream.
Born and raised as a fan of Boca Juniors, it was a shock when he turned out to play for Boca's fierce rivals River Plate (where he has had a 40-year association). As a player and later captain and coach, he won six Primera Division titles with Los Millonarios (The Millionaires).
He is most famous for being the leader, captain, and heart of the Albiceleste team that won the World Cup on home soil in 1978.
He was also part of the team that won the Mundial in 1986, though in a diminished role as Diego Maradona had been made captain in his stead by then manager Carlos Bilardo.
He scored a phenomenal total of 182 goals in 556 official matches, a world record for a defender until it was broken by Barcelona and Holland great Ronald Koeman.