No goals, no problem. Defenders are some of the most selfless footballers of the world, the last stand against offensive attacks and the catalyst of many of their own team’s blitzes. Here are some of the best defenders of the Premier League era.
Virgil van Dijk
Liverpool broke the world-record defensive fee to sign defender Virgil van Dijk for £75 million from Southampton in December 2017.
He has since transformed into the backbone of the defense for the Reds. The dynamic Dutchman played a pivotal role in Liverpool’s Champions League title in 2019 after before losing the finals to Real Madrid the year before.
Criticized by Tottenham fans for his controversial move to crosstown rivals Arsenal in 2001, Sol Campbell developed into a cornerstone for the Gunner defense. The man Arsene Wenger often referred to as a ‘super rock,’ helped the club win the double in 2002 and played an important role on the side that went undefeated in the 2003-04 season.
The Belgium center back has been at Man City for over a decade, providing a fortress of defense for the side. In 336 appearances, the former captain has helped lead the team to three Premiership titles, one FA Cup, and two Community Shields.
Considered by some to be the best left-back in the world during his career at Chelsea, Ashley Cole won four FA Cups, a Premier League, a League Cup, a Europa League Cup, and Champions League with The Blues. He also won two Premier League titles and four FA Cups as a Gunner.
His controversial move from the Gunners in 2006 to Chelsea earned him the nickname ‘Cashley Cole’ by Arsenal fans. With his continued success and swath of trophies in West London, Cole was able to put the transfer saga comfortably behind him.
Voted the best defender in back to back Champions Leagues, Dutch defender Jaap Stam protected the back for a mix of reputable teams including Manchester United, Lazio, Milan, and Ajax. Most decorated at Manchester in the late 1990s, where he won the Premier League three times, the FA Cup, and the 1998/99 Champions League trophy.
John Terry is still the only player to captain a team in the Premier League to five titles. Known as ‘Captain Fantastic,’ the defender spent over 19 years at Chelsea, amounting to 500 appearances with the club. Terry capped off a storied career with a Champions League victory in 2012. He also earned four FA Cups and three league cups.
he first recipient of the Premier League Golden Glove award, Petr Čech set a single-season record of 24 clean sheets for The Blues during the 2004-05 season. After returning from a horrific incident in a 2006 match that left him with a fractured skull, he sported a trademark helmet that saw him lift Champions League, four League titles, and four FA Cups.
Tony Adams is an Arsenal legend, having played his entire 22-year career as center-back with the club, captaining 14 of them. He also remains the only player in Premiership history captain to win 3 titles in 3 different decades. Known as “Mr Arsenal,” Adams is one of 5 player statues commemorated at Emirates Stadium.
Signed in 2006, Nemanja Vidić spent eight years protecting the back for the Red Devils. During the 2008/09 season, Vidić helped Manchester United record 14 clean sheets in a row as he won his first of two Premier League Player of the Season awards. Strong and dependable, Vidić helped United win a bucket of trophies including five Premier Leagues and Champions League in 2008.
Considered one of the best ball-playing defenders, the dominant center-back Rio Ferdinand played 12 years at Manchester United. He won the Premier League in his first year with the club in 2003, earning a total of 6 Premier League titles. He also won the Champions League in the 2007/08 season and earned 81 caps for England.