One of the hardest skills to master, center defending is all about positioning and awareness. Having a knack for goal-scoring doesn’t hurt as well.
Let’s take a look at the best center-backs of all-time of the Premier League era.
10. Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce captained the Manchester United side to two Premier League titles. He was also the first English captain to win the Double, including both the League title and FA Cup during the 1993–94 season.
9. 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 commanding Dutchman played a pivotal role in Liverpool’s Champions League title in 2019 after before losing the finals to Real Madrid the year before.
8. Vincent Kompany
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.
7. Gary Pallister
With 437 appearances and 15 goals at Manchester United, Gary Pallister put it all on the pitch. During the 1992-93 title-winning season, the stalwart defender played every minute.
All in all, he earned four Premier League titles and three FA Cups.
6. Ricardo Carvalho
Ricardo Carvalho played six years with Chelsea, most notably in the early days with Jose Mourinho’s side. He formed a partnership with John Terry which became — the two became known as the Pensioners. Carvalho won 3 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, and 2 English Cups.
5. Nemanja Vidic
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.
4. Tony Adams
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.
3. Sol Campbell
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.
2. Rio Ferdinand
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.
1. John Terry
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.