They’ve picked the pockets of all-time greats including Messi and Ronaldo. They’ve scored thunderous goals on the attack.
Left-backs are becoming an ever-more important position in the game. From Paolo Maldini to Roberto Carlos, these are the best left-backs of all-time.
10. Andreas Brehme
Andreas Brehme finished third in the 1990 Ballon D’Or voting, after scoring Germany’s winner against Argentina in the 1990 World Cup.
Known for his attacking ability, crosses, and thunderous shots, Brehme also earned named player of the year for his role in Inter Milan’s 1989 Serie A title. He helped Internazionale win the UEFA Cup victory years later in 1991.
9. Bixente Lizarazu
With 97 caps, left-back Bixente Lizarazu helped France win its first World Cup in 1998 and the subsequent European Championship in 2000.
He also earned a score of domestic and cup medals at club sides Bayern Munich and Bordeaux, most notably six Bundesliga titles, the 2000/01 Champions League, and five German Cups.
8. Ruud Krol (Ajax, Holland)
The legendary Dutch defender earned 339 caps at the club, a 12-year career that saw him clinch 8 Dutch league titles.
Known as a tough tackler and tactician, Krol contributed to one of the greatest Ajax sides of all time that won the three European Championships of 1971, 1972, and 1973.
He also helped Holland to two FIFA World Cup runner-up finishes in 1974 and 1978.
7. Paul Breitner (Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, West Germany)
An attacking left-back, the speedster Paul Breitner won five German league titles, two league cups, and the 1974 European Cup.
Remembered as a controversial player given his short stint at Real Madrid before returning to Bayern as captain.
He also helped West Germany to the 1974 World Cup, the 1972 European Championship, and a runner-up finishing in the 1982 World Cup.
6. Ashley Cole (Arsenal, Chelsea, England)
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.
5. Marcelo (Real Madrid, Brazil)
Real Madrid signed Marcelo from Fluminese for a mere €6 million in 2007. Since then, the Brazilian has morphed into one of the best defenders in the world.
Known for his exquisite first touch, the Brazilian left-back Marcelo has spent the past 16 seasons at the Bernabeu.
A five-time Champions League winner and six-time La Liga champion, the ever-dependable Brazilian is Real Madrid’s most decorated player of all-time with 25 club trophies.
4. Philip Lahm (Bayern Munich, Germany)
A versatile full back — he also played right back — Philipp became known for his speed and pinpoint tackling.
The left-back played 17 seasons for the Bavaria side, captaining the side to its first Treble in 2012 with the Champions League, German League title, and DFB Cup under his belt.
In total, he won the league 8 times and the DFB Pokal 6 times.
He also played over 100 appearances for the German national team where the defenseman captained the side in the 2010 World Cup before winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Known as a talented and judicious fullback — Pep Guardiola called him “perhaps the most intelligent player I have ever trained in my career.”
3. Giacinto Facchetti (Italy, Inter Milan)
The Italian left-back Giacinto Facchetti played in three World Cups, winning as runner-up in 1970. He also captained the side that won the 1968 European Championship. His performances at club level were equally praiseworthy — he finished his career at Inter Milan with four Serie A titles, two European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, and a Coppa Italia.
2. Roberto Carlos (Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Brazil)
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-backs in history. Carlos finished his Real career winning four domestic league trophies and Champions League three times.
1. Paolo Maldini (AC Milan, Italy)
Considered one of the best defenders of all-time, Paulo Maldini finished third for the Ballon d’Or twice, once in 1994 and a second time nine years later.
The one-club Italian was remarkably consistent, captaining AC Milan to five Champions League trophies and seven league titles in 25 historic years with AC Milan.