In a game that revolves around goals, attacking players are often the ones to hog the limelight, overshadowing the efforts put in by their defensive counterparts. Matches are often credited to the team because of their efforts in the final third, completely ignoring the importance of the players doing the dirty work on the defensive end.
Defenders are extremely underappreciated in the game of football, particularly in the eyes of the fans. However, for the managers, they are as essential as their attacking options and are often entrusted with the captain's armband because they possess the maturity that their fellow teammates lack.
Due to the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi duopoly since 2008, no other player has even come close to winning the Ballon d'Or. In fact, the last defender to be nominated for the illustrious award was way back in 2006, when a certain Italian defender named Fabio Cannavaro swept past Gianluigi Buffon and Thierry Henry to get his hands on the trophy.
Since then, no defender has been nominated, let alone win the Ballon d'Or. While the current generation possesses an array of quality central defenders, we take a look at the top ten centre-backs to grace the game of football.
#10 Carles Puyol
The Spaniard is one of the greatest ever to don an FC Barcelona jersey. Being part of the team captained by Pep Guardiola, Puyol quickly rose to the high expectations set for him, and went on the be a world beater for both club and country.
Puyol formed a seamless understanding with Gerard Pique, which saw the duo being regarded as one of the greatest centre-back pairings of all time. While the latter often indulged in distributing possession and keeping hold of the ball, the former undoubtedly stood out as the better defender among the two.
With a prolific aerial presence coupled with the ability the breakdown opposition play, Puyol was reckoned one of the smartest and most astute players of his generation. He was rightfully named Barcelona captain and went on to make a staggering 589 appearances for club and country.
#9 Ronald Koeman
Regarded as one of the most tactically adept managers of this generation, Everton head coach Ronald Koeman enjoyed an illustrious playing career back in the 80s and 90s. Being a key component of an extremely solid Dutch side, Koeman went on to make a remarkable 78 caps for his country.
While goal-scoring exploits are not something one associates with a defender, Koeman proved that a job of a centre back isn't merely to contribute on the defensive end, but also put in a shift in the final third.
Unbelievably, in the 503 league appearances he made, Koeman bagged a fascinating 193 goals - making him the highest goal-scoring defender in footballing history. To add to his phenomenal finishing ability, he was also a composed figure on the ball, and possessed an exceptional passing range.