The primary responsibility of a defender in the game of football is to defend his team's citadel, or in other words, to prevent the other team from scoring.
However, throughout the game's storied history, there have been a number of defenders who have ventured upfield with aplomb to score goals for their teams. In the process, they have added an extra dimension to their teams' attacks.
Top ten goal-scoring defenders in the 21st century
It is always beneficial for a team to have goal-scoring defenders in its roster, during open play as well as in set-piece situations.
On that note, let us have a look at the ten-most prolific goal-scoring defenders - retired or active - since the turn of the century.
#10 Andreas Holzl - 52 goals
After commencing his professional career with FC Wacker Innsbruck in the Austrian second division in 2003-04, Andreas Holzl has gone on to make his name as a goal-scoring defender in the country's club football.
The 35-year-old right-back has scored most of his goals - 35 of 52 - during a productive six-season stint at first-division Sturm Graz, with an impressive 12 of them coming in his first season at the club.
#9 Marc Dal Hende
After debuting with Vyborg in 2009, Marc Dal Hende has played for five more clubs in the Danish first division.
The goal-scoring left-back has scored goals in all but two seasons of his club career. Hende has enjoyed the most prolific spell of his career with Midtjylland, scoring an impressive 22 goals in four successful seasons at the club.
#8 Philippe Clement - 53 goals
Barring a lone season at Premier League club Coventry City, Philippe Clement spent 15 seasons of his playing career in the Belgian League.
The centre-back, who debuted for Genk, prospered at Club Brugge during a decade-long stint at the club. Clement scored 50 of his 52 goals for the club while winning two Belgian league titles and other domestic honours.
Clement, who is now the manager of Club Brugge, won the 2019-20 league title at the club.
#7 Dani Alves - 58 goals
One of the finest goal-scoring full-backs in the modern era, Dani Alves plied his trade at three different top-5 league clubs in Europe.
However, it was in Barcelona where the marauding right-back made his name. During a highly successful eight-season stay at the Camp Nou, Alves netted 21 goals and provided a whopping 101 assists.
The 37-year-old Brazilian won a staggering 20 titles at the club - a tally that comprised of six La Liga titles and three Champions League honours.
Alves later went to play for Juventus and Paris St. Germain before returning to his native Brazil in 2018, and now plies his trade with Sao Paulo.
#6 Chris Janssens - 58 goals
Chris Jannsens is one of the most prolific goal-scoring defenders in Belgian history.
The centre-back scored an impressive tally of 58 goals this century after commencing his professional career at KSC Lokeren in the Belgian League. Jannsens netted almost half of these goals - 26 - during a productive stint at KVC Westerlo.
In the 2000-01 season, Jannsens scored an impressive 12 goals for KSC Lokeren after netting 12 for the club the season before.
#5 William Janssen - 59 goals
William Janssen has scored an impressive tally of 59 goals since making his professional debut with VVV Venlo in the Dutch Eredivisie in 2006-07.
The 34-year-old centre-back has scored 24 goals for his present club Utrecht, whom he joined in 2013. Jannsen has also netted 20 goals for Roda and 13 goals with Twente, with whom he won the Dutch Super Cup in 2012.
Last season, Janssen became the first player to score in 13 consecutive Eredivisie seasons this century.
#4 Roberto Carlos - 65 goals
Arguably one of the finest goal-scoring defenders of all time, Roberto Carlos shone for a bevy of clubs during a glittering two-decade professional career, most notably with Internazionale and Real Madrid.
Carlos, renowned for his impressive goal-scoring ability, scored several blistering long-rangers during his career and was also adept at set-pieces.
The Brazilian scored a La Liga goal in each of his 11 seasons at Real Madrid and produced an assist in all but two seasons. At the peak of his powers in the early 2000s, the left-back scored five goals and provided assists galore in Real Madrid's victorious La Liga campaigns in 2000 and 2002.
#3 James Tavernier - 67 goals
After starting his professional career with Newcastle United in 2009, James Tavernier has made a name for himself as a prolific goal-scoring defender at Scottish giants Rangers.
During his ongoing six-season stint at the Glasgow club, Tavernier recently scored his 50th goal, which is an impressive tally for a player who doesn't operate up front.
In his decade-long career, the 29-year-old has scored 67 goals and provided a staggering 96 assists in all competitions while blazing down the right wing and picking up his forward colleagues with inch-perfect crosses.
#2 Rene Aufhauser - 71 goals
Rene Aufhauser has been one of the most prolific goal-scoring defenders since the turn of the century.
During his illustrious two-decade-long professional career, the Austrian centre-back appeared in over 100 games for three different clubs - Austria Salzburg, Grazer AK and Red Bull Salzburg.
However, the 44-year-old centre-back, who was also versatile enough to be deployed in defensive midfield, had his most prolific stint with Red Bull Salzburg, winning three Austrian league titles and scoring exactly 50 goals.
#1 Sergio Ramos - 103 goals
Sergio Ramos is one of the best goal-scoring centre-backs to have graced the game despite having a chequered disciplinary career.
The Real Madrid captain led from the front at both ends of the field last season to fire his club to their first La Liga triumph in three years.
Since the exit of the club's record goal-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, Ramos has also assumed penalty-taking duties for the club with aplomb. The 34-year-old recently went past Ronald Koeman's record (67) to become the most prolific goal-scoring defender in La Liga history.
Earlier this month, Ramos netted his 100th goal for Real Madrid to join Fernando Hierro as the only other defender to net a century of goals for the Spanish giants.