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My All-Time Best XI - Centre Backs

July 18, 2017

Iker Casillas and Cafu have already cemented their places into my All-Time Best XI at Goalkeeper and Right Back respectively, but now it starts to get a little more difficult. Some great centre backs have graced our game, from Bobby Moore to John Terry, the list is almost endless. I’ve taken that endless list and chopped it down to create a shortlist of some of the greatest centre backs of all time – where only 2 will make the cut. Starting with…

 

Franz Beckenbauer

 

 

 

 

We start with arguably the greatest centre back of all-time, Franz Beckenbauer. Although my All-Time XI is open to anyone who has ever kicked a ball since the game began in the 1800’s, I am a little sceptical about nominating players I didn’t have the pleasure of watching week in, week out. Saying that, a special player has to be recognised regardless of what era they played in and Franz Beckenbauer is certainly one of those. A two-time Ballon d’Or winner, three consecutive European Cups with Bayern Munich and a World Cup with West Germany, it’s easy to see why Beckenbauer makes the cut – Not to mention being voted the 3rd best player of the 20th Century, as a centre back!

 

Major Honours

 

Bundesliga (5)

DFB-Pokal (4)

European Cup (3)

Intercontinental Cup (1)

World Cup (1)

European Championship (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Multiple! Two-time Ballon d’Or winner, three consecutive European Cups with Bayern but the stand-out has to be leading West Germany to the 1974 World Cup.

 

 

 

Bobby Moore

 

 

 

 

The man Pele, Sir Alex Ferguson, Franz Beckenbauer and probably thousands more consider as the greatest defender to ever play the game. Bobby Moore was instrumental in England’s finest hour at the 1966 World Cup and still remains the only man to captain England to World Cup glory, and that doesn’t show any sign of changing in the foreseeable future, for the first team anyway. A statue rightfully sits outside Wembley Stadium to pay respects to arguably England’s greatest ever player.

 

Major Honours

 

FA Cup (1)

World Cup (1) 

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Captaining England to the 1966 World Cup

 

 

 

Paolo Maldini

 

 

 

 

Is a description really needed for this man? AC Milan’s longest-serving player with over 24 years of service and 902 appearances. A one-club man who played at the very top for over 2 decades at one of the greatest clubs in history. The only blot on his incredible career which includes 5 Champions League trophies, is missing out on winning a major competition with Italy despite coming so close on multiple occasions.

 

Major Honours

 

Serie A (7)

Coppa Italia (1)

European Cup/Champions League (5)

Club World Cup (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Man of the Match in the 2003 Champions League final which Milan won on penalties

 

 

 

 

Fabio Cannavaro

 

 

 

 

Italy’s rock when they needed him most at the 2006 World Cup, a tournament performance that earned him the Ballon d’Or later that year, making him 1 of only 3 defenders ever to win the award. Italy’s most capped player with 127 caps, Cannavaro endured a turbulent career, that to his credit more often than not ended with him lifting a trophy.

 

Major Honours

 

Serie A (2) (revoked)

Coppa Italia (2)

La Liga (2)

World Cup (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Captaining Italy to the 2006 World Cup

 

 

 

 

Sergio Ramos

 

 

 

 

A man for the big occasion – Sergio Ramos is the ultimate leader and a man you can count on to pull you out of the fire. Absolutely he’s not the best all-round defender on this list, but taking into account everything he offers (bar a red card or two), he would be one of the first names on the team sheet for any side in world football. He’s won back-to-back Champions League titles with Real Madrid, back-to-back European Championships with Spain with a World Cup wedged in between, he has literally done everything there is to be done. When you talk about big occasions, Sergio Ramos never fails – A 90th minute equaliser in an El Clasico derby, a 90th minute equaliser in the Super Cup V’s Sevilla and most importantly that 90th minute equaliser in the 2014 Champions League final to put Real on course for La Decima – Not to mention scoring in the 2016 Champions League final and 2014 Club World Cup Final too. 81 career goals so far for Ramos and I’ve got a feeling he’s far from done.

 

Major Honours

 

La Liga (4)

Copa del Rey (2)

Champions League (3)

Club World Cup (2)

World Cup (1)

European Championship (2)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

90th minute equaliser to put Real Madrid on course to win the 2014 Champions League

 

 

Carles Puyol

 

 

 

 

 

Carles Puyol, or as the Barca fans would call him, ‘The Wall’. A warrior on the pitch who would put winning above all else, one former team-mate said, "Even four goals down he thinks we can still win". A treble winner with Barcelona and the European Championship and World Cup back-to-back with Spain, when Carles Puyol wasn’t sleeping he was lifting trophies. A key figure in arguably the greatest club side of all-time, there would be no arguments from me against Puyol being entered into an All-Time XI.

 

Major Honours

 

La Liga (6)

Copa del Rey (2)

Champions League (3)

Club World Cup (2)

World Cup (1)

European Championship (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Captaining Barcelona to the treble in 2009

 

 

Franco Baresi

 

 

 

 

 

Another one club man with a career eerily similar to that of Paolo Maldini. A 20-year career at Milan, wielding 6 Serie A titles and 3 European Cups guaranteed his place in the AC Milan Hall of Fame and considered as one of the all-time greats. Baresi was also in the squad for Italy’s 1982 World Cup winning campaign although he wasn’t selected to play. Baresi went on to represent his country 81 times in a glittering career.

 

Major Honours

 

Serie A (6)

Copa del Rey (2)

European Cup/Champions League (3)

Intercontinental Cup (2)

World Cup (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Winning back-to-back European Cups with AC Milan

 

 

So that’s the shortlist – It was difficult to leave out the likes of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, among others, as cases could be stated for a lot of people but my mind is made up. The centre backs in my All-Time Best XI are…

 

Franz Beckenbauer & Paolo Maldini

 

For me, Beckenbauer was an easy choice but I’ve had sleepless nights over the second spot. It’s changed multiple times but I eventually stuck on Maldini, as a personal preference if nothing more. This is how the XI is currently shaping up now we have our centre backs…

 

 

 

 

Next up I’ll be completing the defensive line up with the left back – Keep an eye out for my next post.

 

Who makes centre back in your All-Time Best XI? Tweet me  @zefutbolwriter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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