15 Greatest French Defenders of All Time

Who is the best French defender ever?

Speaking of France national football team, our thoughts will certainly drift to some famous names such as Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, or Thierry Henry. Indeed, the country has given birth to hundreds of world class midfielders and strikers. Not only that, France also produces a great number of quality defenders who won numerous prestigious trophies at international and club levels.

Who is the best French defenders of all time? To answer the question, I tried to write this article. Here, I present a list of 15 defenders from France who had instrumental roles in helping their country to be one of the most reputable national teams in the world of football.



15. Frank Leboeuf

Frank Leboeuf is a retired central defender who was famous for his productivity in scoring goals. Throughout his career, Leboeuf scored 93 goals, mostly made through penalty kicks and free kicks. One of the best performances of Frank Leboeuf in France national team occurred in the 1998 World Cup final against Brazil. He replaced Laurent Blanc who was red carded in the semifinals. He successfully marked Ronaldo and helped his country win the tournament. At club level, Leboeuf had the most successful career at Chelsea in the 1996-2001 period.

14. Robert Jonquet

Robert Jonquet was one of the best French captains of all time. He led his country finish third in the 1958 World Cup. Not only that, Jonquet was also part of the golden generation of Stade Reims that dominated European football in the 1950s. At Reims, Jonquet won five league titles and twice became Champions Cup finalists. In total, he played for France national team in 58 international matches.


13. Mikael Silvestre

Mikael Silvestre was a versatile defender who spent most of his career in the Premier League. He could play as a left back, center back or right-back. He underwent his best period as a professional footballer at Manchester United between 1999 and 2008, when Silvestre won five Premier League titles, one FA Cup trophy and a Champions League trophy. Despite playing regularly and consistently at club level, Silvestre got a very little chance to be included in the first team of France national team. He did not even play in a single game in the World Cup in 2006 and 2010.

12. Marius Tresor

Marius Tresor is a former defender who was included in the list of 125 best footballers in the world by Pele. He played for France national team in the 1971-1983 period, scoring four goals in 65 matches. Tresor was recognized as a defender who possessed strong physical ability, determined, and fast. At club level, he won a French League title with Girondins de Bordeaux.

11. Roger Marche

Playing as a left back, Roger Marche was one of the key players in the French national team in the 1950s. He was famous as a swift, aggressive, and versatile defender. Marche had instrumental role in helping France secured third place in the 1958 World Cup. Not only that, he also had quite successful career at Stade Reims and Paris FC. Throughout his career, Marhce won two French League titles and a Coupe de France trophy.

10. Patrick Battiston

Battiston is a retired defender who is mostly remembered for an incident in the 1982 World Cup. In a semifinal match, he collided with the West Germany goalkeeper, Harald Schumacher. His teeth were broken and he was in a coma for a while after the collision. Without Battiston, France was finally defeated and knocked out of the tournament. Throughout his career, Battiston played in 56 games for France national team and scored three goals. He also won Euro 1984 and five French League titles.


9. Willy Sagnol

Willy Sagnol is a retired right-back who underwent glorious career period when he played for Bayern Munich between 2000 and 2009. During nine years joining the club, Sagnol won five Bundesliga titles, four DFB Pokal, and one Champions League trophy. He was also an important player in France national team in 2006 World Cup, where they became the runner-up of the tournament. In total, Sagnol played in 58 matches for France national team.


8. Patrice Evra

Since he was signed from AS Monaco in 2006, Evra has earned a place in the first-team squad of Manchester United. Not only fast, powerful, and aggressive; Evra also possesses outstanding leadership skills. He currently captains Manchester United and France national team. With Manchester United, Evra has won five Premier League titles, one Champions League trophy, and one FIFA Club World Cup trophy.


7. William Gallas

Strong, tough, and consistent. William Gallas started to show his quality as a star player at Chelsea. He was signed from Marseille in 2006 for a fee of 6.2 million pounds. Since his first season, Gallas immediately earned a place in the main squad of Chelsea, forming duet with his compatriot, Marcel Desailly. One of the most highly praised skills of Gallas is his ability to play in various positions, ranging from center back, right back and left back. Throughout his career, he won two Premier League titles and a League Cup trophy.


6. √Čric Abidal

Not just showing great performances as a footballer, Abidal is also a very inspiring human-being. He was seriously ill and had to undergo a liver transplant. The operation was a success, and after that Abidal still decided to pursue a career as a footballer. Abidal was the first-team defender of France national team in the 2006 World Cup. Throughout his career, he won three Ligue 1 titles (with Lyon), four La Liga titles, two Champions League trophies, and two FIFA Club World Cup trophies (with Barcelona).

5. Manuel Amoros

Manuel Amoros was the mainstay of the French national team in the 1980s. Playing as a right-back, he had a major role helping his country win Euro 1984. Amoros performed brilliantly at the 1986 World Cup, aided France finish third and was selected as the best right back of the tournament. In addition to success at national team level, his career at club level was also glorious. Amoros is regarded as one of the best players Marseille and Monaco all time. During his period playing for both clubs, Amoros won four Ligue 1 titles and one Champions League trophy.


4. Bixente Lizarazu

Until now, there is no French wing-back who is as good as Bixente Lizarazu, in terms of individual skills and the number of trophies won. He helped France national team win the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, and claimed five Bundesliga titles as well as one Champions League trophy with Bayern Munich. Throughout his career, Lizarazu was famous as an agile left-back who actively contributed to the team's offense from the left side of the field. He was very fast, possessed outstanding crossing and remarkable stamina.


3. Marcel Desailly

Playing as a sweeper, Desailly was also sometimes positioned as a defensive midfielder. Together with Laurent Blanc, Bixente Lizarazu, and Lilian Thuram; Desailly formed a defense quartet that helped his country win the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Besides being successful at national team, his career at the club level was also quite brilliant. During his time at Marseille, Milan, and Chelsea; Desailly won two Champions League trophies, two Serie A titles, two UEFA Super Cups, and an FA Cup trophy.

2. Laurent Blanc

Due to his outstanding leadership skills, Laurent Blanc was dubbed by Marseille's fans as "Les President." One of his best performances for France national team occurred in the 1998 World Cup, in a match against Paraguay. At that time Blanc scored a goal in extra time, taking his country advance to the next round. Throughout his career, Blanc joined various clubs ind different countries such as Montpellier, Napoli, Barcelona, ​​Marseille, Manchester United, and Inter Milan.


1. Lilian Thuram

With a total of 142 appearances, Lilian Thuram holds the record as a player with the most caps for France national team. Thuram played for his country in the period 1994-2008, presenting the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 trophies. He was known as a strong defender with almost perfect marking, heading, and tackling skills. At club level, Thuram had successful career with Monaco, Parma, Juventus and Barcelona. He won a Coupe de France trophy, one UEFA Cup, two Serie A titles, and one Supercopa de Espana.


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