Full-backs come in all shapes and sizes — there are those who can score goals, run the flank, and others who focus on the dirty work and pass it swiftly out of the back. Not surprisingly, some of the best defenders in the world have played for the trophy-laden Real Madrid.
Let us take a look at Real Madrid's top 10 best defenders of all-time.
Often considered one of the best defenders in the world with partner in crime Sergio Ramos, the Portuguese defender Pepe helped Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions League titles, three league titles, and two Copa del Rey. He's also participated in four World Cups, winning Man of the Match for helping his side win its first major international trophy with a European Championship in 2016.
9. José Antonio Camacho
The Spanish left-back Jose Antonio Alfaro played 15 years as the cornerstone for the Los Blancos defense. He participated in more than 500 matches for the side, helping the team to nine La Liga titles. The tough tackler later coached Real Madrid for two brief stints. He also led the Spanish national team from 1998 to 2002, guiding them to the quarter-finals of the 2000 UEFA European Championship and the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
8. Miguel Porlán Noguera, aka Chendo
The one-club right-back Chendo spent 17 years at Real Madrid where he won the lot, including seven league titles, two Copa del Rey trophies, a Champions League, and two UEFA Cups. He was known to bully Argentina legend Maradona when the latter played for Barcelona.
Chendo's one-club career and unwavering dedication to Real Madrid (497 appearances) make him a legendary figure at the club.
7. José Santamaría
Nicknamed “The Wall” for his stingy defensive posture, Jose Santamaria spent nine years at Real Madrid helping the club win an astonishing four European Cups along with six La Liga titles. Santamaría represented two countries during his career, playing for Uruguay and then Spain. He was part of Uruguay's 1954 World Cup squad and later played for Spain in the 1962 World Cup, making him one of the few players in history to have represented two different nations in the World Cup.
6. Raphaël Varane
The French defender earned 16 trophies — four of them Champions League silverware — during his ten-year spell with the club. The ever-dependable World Cup-winning center-back played a vital role in Zinedine Zidane's side.
Due to the financial crunch caused by Covid-19, Los Blancos sold Varane to Manchester United in the summer of 2021 for $50 million. Despite leaving Real Madrid, Varane's legacy at the club is assured. He is widely regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation and will always be remembered by the Madrid faithful.
5. Manuel Sanchís Hontiyuelo
The one-club man Manuel Sanchís Hontiyuelo spent 15 years and 710 games covering the backline for Real Madrid. All in all, he helped the club secure two Champions League titles, eight La Liga trophies, and two Copa del Rey.
Known for his exquisite first touch, the Brazilian left-back spent 16 seasons at the Bernabeu. A five-time Champions League winner and six-time La Liga champion, he's also won two Copa Del Rey. He remains the most decorated player for the Whites with 25 trophies.
3. Fernando Hierro
The center-back Fernando Hierro transferred from Valladolid to Real Madrid for $1.3m in 1989. In his fourteen years with the club, he scored 127 goals and helped Los Blancos to five league titles and three Champions League titles. The Real Madrid faithful believe that the legend Fernando Hierro displayed the same intensity as Sergio Ramos
2. Roberto Carlos
With 125 appearances for the Seleção, defender Roberto Carlos helped Brazil win the 2002 World Cup, a Confederations Cup, and a Copa America. The left-back was known for his powerful and bending free-kicks that were known to reach up to 105 mph, most notably the rocket he hit against France in a 1997 friendly match.
The Brazilian defender played 527 times for Los Blancos, making his name as one of the best left-back in history. Carlos finished his Real career winning four domestic league trophies and the Champions League three times.
1. Sergio Ramos
Ramos succeeded Iker Casillas as Real Madrid captain in 2015, helping guide Los Blancos to four Champions League victories. Love him or hate him for the occasional dubious foul, he was consistent at Real Madrid for 16 seasons and scored some crucial goals along the way.
The two-time UEFA European champion also played a vital role in helping Spain win the World Cup in 2010. Ramos, along with Raphel Varane, left the club in the summer of 2021 due to the financial crunch caused by COVID-19.
Ramos went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain before exploring his options in the Saudi Pro League in 2023.
This article was last updated on June 12, 2023 and originally published on April 3, 2020