15 Best Sweepers in the History of Football

Who is the best sweeper ever?

Sweeper or libero is a unique position in the world of football (soccer). Unlike strikers or central forwards, not all teams have a sweeper in their formation. This is because there is a stigma that having sweeper in a team may lead to more defensive playing style, which results in negative football. However, this opinion isn't always correct, especially if this position is carried out by suitable players, such as Franz Beckenbauer, Ronald Koeman, or Daniel Passarella.

As the name suggests, sweeper's main duty is to 'sweep' or clear the ball away from their defense area. A sweeper is usually positioned behind the central defenders, becoming the last defense before the goalkeeper. Not only that, a sweeper is also required to be able to build attacks from the defense line, or even helps the offense.

In this article, I present you a list of 15 best sweeper in football history. Be sure to vote for your favorite at the end of this article.

15. Klaus Augenthaler

Klaus Augenthaler was the mainstay libero of West Germany national team in the period 1983-990. This player was the partner of Jurgen Kohler as center backs of West Germany national team and sometimes also played as a lone sweeper. Augenthaler was instrumental in the success of West Germany in winning the 1990 World Cup. This player spent his entire career playing for Bayern Munich in the period 1976-1991. At Munich, Augenthaler won seven Bundesliga titles and three DFB Pokal trophies.

14. Frank de Boer

Tough in defending, having high leadership skills, and also known as a reliable set-piece taker. Frank de Boer was regarded as the perfect replacement for Ronald Koeman. He was trusted to be a first team player in Netherlands national team from 1990 to 2004. At first, he played as a left back, but later was plotted to play as a center-back or sweeper. De Boer is also known as a legendary figure of Ajax Amsterdam, where he helped the club win eight Eredivisie titles (three of them as a coach) and one Champions League trophy.

13. Ciro Ferrara

Ciro Ferrara was known as one of the best Juventus players of all time. He joined La Vecchia Signora from 1994 to 2005. Throughout this period, Ferrara always trusted to be the commander of Juventus' defense line. His great strength and smart tactical skills make Ferrara was really hated by the opposing strikers. During his career, he also won many titles, including seven Serie A titles, one Champions League trophy and two Coppa Italia trophies.

12. Laurent Blanc

In his golden times, Laurent Blanc was known as a very powerful sweeper. He was a mainstay of France national team in the 1998 World Cup tournament, a tournament in which they became the world champion. Not only had successful career in his native land, Blanc also played for several big clubs in other European Leagues, such as Manchester United, Barcelona and Inter Milan. His best individual achievement is winning the best French player award in 1990.

11. Fernando Hierro

Fernando Hierro is an example of a complete defender. His duet with Manuel Sanchis at the end of the 1990s made Real Madrid to be a team with a very solid defense. Not only that, Hierro also very often scored goals from penalty kicks and free kicks. In addition to his great physical abilities, Hierro is also very smart and highly efficient, made him a perfect libero for the team.

10. Armando Picchi

Armando Picchi is a retired sweeper who was trusted to be the captain of the best team in the history of Inter Milan that is known as the "Grande Inter." Grande Inter team was created by coach Helenio Herrera in 1960, adapting a super-defensive strategy known as catenaccio. In this strategy, of course Picchi's role as a libero is very crucial. At Inter Milan, he won three Serie A titles and two Champions League trophies.

9. Billy Wright

Due to their offensive playing styles, there are not many English teams that incorporate a sweeper system in their formation. Billy Wright is one of the few British sweepers whose performance is remarkable. He became a mainstay of England national team in the 1946-1959 period. At the club level, Wright spent his entire career playing for Wolverhampton Wanderers. He successfully led Wolverhampton became one of the most successful clubs in his time, winning three Premier League titles and an FA Cup trophy.

8. ElĂ­as Figueroa

Elias Figueroa is regarded as one of the best Chilean footballers ever. He played in the period 1964-1982. Not just playing in the Chilean League, Figueroa also reaped many achievements while playing in the Brazilian league at Internacional and in the Uruguayan League at Penarol. This player is known as an elegant, charismatic sweeper. He is also famous for his great ability in intercepting the opponents' passes.

7. Ronald Koeman

Ronald Koeman is a former defender who was trusted to guard the defense line of Dutch national team in the late 1980s to mid-1990s. He is known as a defender with a high shooting power that often result in goals, particularly through the execution of set-pieces. One of the best achievements of Ronald Koeman is winning the Euro 1988 with the Dutch national team. At club level, he won many achievements when playing for Barcelona and PSV; among them are three Dutch league titles, four La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies.

6. Matthias Sammer

Matthias Sammer is a perfect example of a defender. He is not only an expert in securing defense, but also have accurate passing skill which often led to goals. Not only that, Sammer is quite prolific in scoring goals. Throughout his professional career, Sammer scored 84 goals from 291 appearances. His best achievement occurred in 1996, where he won the German League with Borussia Dortmund, winning Euro 1996 with the German national team, and was awarded the Ballon d'Or award.

5. Gaetano Scirea

Scirea is one of the first liberos in the world to contribute actively in building the team's offense. He is regarded as a figure who inspired many modern liberos such as Ronald Koeman, Matthias Sammer, and Frank de Boer. His brilliant performance gave him first-team spot in Italian national team and Juventus. During his career as a footballer in the period 1972-1988, Scirea won a World Cup trophy, seven Serie A titles and a Champions League trophy.

4. Ruud Krol

If Johan Cruyff was a player who was trusted to be the general offensive line in total football tactics, then Ruud Krol is the general of the defense line. Krol was one of the Dutch football legends, in which he managed to show great performances with Dutch national team and Ajax Amsterdam. At Ajax, Krol won eight Dutch league titles and three Champions League trophies. Apart from being a sweeper, Krol was also sometimes positioned as a wing-back.

3. Franco Baresi

Not only had a role as the core of Italy's and AC Milan's defense, Baresi was also the foundation of a counter-attack strategy that became the mainstay of both teams. Baresi has small built, but he is very fast and smart in anticipating the opponent's attack. With his great skills as a libero, Baresi won many achievements as a player of Italy national team and AC Milan, among them are a World Cup trophy, six Serie A titles, and three Champions League trophies.

2. Daniel Passarella

Although he is regarded as a player who often played dirty, the greatness of Daniel Passarella in guarding the defense line of Argentine national team is undeniable. His presence gave a lot of troubles for many world-class strikers in penetrating the defense of Argentina team, making this country successfully won two World Cups in 1978 and 1986. Not only that, with a record 134 goals, Passarella becomes one of the highest-scoring sweepers in football history.

1. Franz Beckenbauer

Perfect. There is no other word can describe the greatness of Franz Beckenbauer as a sweeper rather than 'perfect.' He is tough in guarding the defense line, smart in building attack, and has high leadership skills. Not only mastering defensive skills such as tackling, marking and heading; Beckenbauer also has very good attacking skills, such as passing, shooting, and dribbling. In addition to winning the 1974 World Cup and Euro 1972 with the West Germany national team, Beckenbauer also won four Bundesliga titles and three Champions League trophy when he played for Bayern Munich.

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