Top 15 Greatest Spanish Defenders of All Time

Who is the best Spanish defender ever?

Spain has very strong football culture. The country dominates the football world, both at club level and national team level. Hundreds, even thousands of quality football players were born in Spain and they won numerous awards as well as prestigious international tournaments.

One factor that plays a major role in the success of the Spain national team and clubs is their solid defense. In this article, I give you a list of 15 greatest Spanish defenders in the history of football. Their quality as the generals of the defense line cannot be doubted. Some of them are even recognized as the best defenders in the world.

15. Michel Salgado

Michel Salgado is a retired right-back who became a mainstay of Real Madrid for approximately ten years. This player was signed by Madrid from Celta Vigo in 1999 and throughout his career he won four La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies. Salgado is known as a wingback with high stamina and very great at marking his opponent. He played in 53 games for the Spanish national team in the period 1998-2006.

14. Carlos Marchena

Carlos Marchena is regarded as one of Valencia's best player of all time. He is known as a very aggressive central defender, making him sometimes to be played as a defensive midfielder. One of the best achievements of Marchena is led Valencia win two La Liga titles and a UEFA Cup trophy. He is also part of the Spanish national team that won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

13. Joan Capdevila

Joan Capdevila is not only a great defender, but also a reliable goalscorer. Plays as a left back, Capdevila is very active in helping his team's offense and provides crossing passes from the side of the pitch to the strikers. He even dribbles the ball into the opponent's penalty box and scored a lot of goals. One of his best achievements at club level is winning two Spanish Super Cup when he played for Deportivo La Coruna in the early 2000s.

12. Jordi Alba

Fast, agile, and tough. Jordi Alba is a wingback who can play on the left and right sides equally well. This player became one of the Spanish national team first-choice defenders in the Euro 2012 tournament. Jordi Alba was raised by Valencia Youth Academy and he got his chance to play as a starter in 2009, at the age of 20 years. His great performances at Valencia and the Spanish national team made Barcelona signed Alba with a high enough transfer fee, reaching 14 million euros.

11. Miguel Ángel Nadal

Miguel Angel Nadal was Barcelona's defense line mainstay in the 1990s. He could play as a wing-back, center back, even as a defensive midfielder. Nadal was included as part of the Barcelona's dream team in the early 1990s, under the leadership of Johan Cruyff as coach. Throughout his career, Nadal won a Champions Cup trophy, five La Liga titles and one Winners' Cup trophy. Miguel Angel Nadal is the uncle of Rafael Nadal, one of the best tennis players in the world.

10. Albert Ferrer

Albert Ferrer is one of the Spanish defenders who had successful career overseas. After playing for Barcelona for eight years, Ferrer moved to Chelsea in the summer of 1998. In this club, he joined the world-class players such as Gianfranco Zola, Marcel Desailly, and Gianluca Vialli. During five years of playing for Chelsea, Ferrer won one Winners' Cup trophy and one FA Cup trophy.

9. Alvaro Arbeloa

Alvaro Arbeloa is a wingback who was raised by Real Madrid Youth Academy. Failed to get a place in the first team, Arbeloa was eventually sold to Deportivo La Coruna. In this club, he showed captivating performance so that he was signed by Liverpool in 2007. After two years playing at Liverpool, Arbeloa returned to Real Madrid and until now occupies the first-team position as a wing-back of the club. In addition to winning two Euro trophies and one World Cup trophy with the Spanish national team, Arbeloa also presented one La Liga title and one Spanish Cup trophy for Real Madrid.

8. Sergi Barjuán

Sergi Barjuan is a retired player who played as Barcelona's first-choice left-back in the period 1993 to 2002. His position in Barcelona was almost irreplaceable, and Sergi had a big role in helping the club win three La Liga titles, a Winners' Cup trophy, and two Copa del Rey trophies. This player ended his career at Atletico Madrid in 2005. After his retirement, he worked as a coach of Barcelona Youth team for two seasons.

7. Rafael Gordillo

Rafael Gordillo was known as a very aggressive wingback. He did not hesitate to help the team's offense, even sometimes scored important goals. This player spent 12 years of his career at Real Betis and seven years at Real Madrid. His best achievement is helping Real Madrid win the Spanish League for five consecutive seasons, from 1985 to 1990. Gordillo was also part of the Spanish national team that became the runner-up in the Euro 1984 tournament.

6. Manuel Sanchis

Manuel Sanchis is one of the best Real Madrid captains of all time. This player joined Madrid for 18 years, from 1983 to 2001. He is known as one of the best all-time sweepers which sometimes can be played as a central defender. Throughout his career, Sanchis won eight La Liga titles, two Champions League trophies, and two Copa del Rey trophies. He was also selected as the best player of Spain in 1990.

5. Gerard Piqué

Gerard Pique is a perfect example of a central defender. He is tall, strong, fast, and smart in anticipating the opponent's attack. This player was brought up by Barcelona Youth Academy and played for Manchester United in the period 2004-2008. He returned to Barcelona in the summer of 2008, where he won four La Liga titles, two Champions League trophies, and two FIFA Club World Cup trophies. Pique was also selected as the Best Defender of La Liga in 2010.

4. José Antonio Camacho

Before being famous as one of the most successful coaches in Spain, Jose Antonio Camacho was once a very powerful left-back. He became a mainstay of Real Madrid defense line for 15 years, from 1974 to 1989. At El Real, Camacho won nine league titles, five Copa del Rey trophies, and two Champions League trophies. He also played in 81 international matches for Spanish national team and helped his country to be the runner-up of the Euro 1984.

3. Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is a perfect example of a complete defender. He can play as a center back, wing-back, and sweeper equally well. Ramos is also very fast and tough and often scores important goals. This player was signed by Real Madrid from Sevilla in 2005, and so far he has won three La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey trophies. Ramos also became a mainstay of the Spanish team's defense that won two Euro trophies and one World Cup's championship title.

2. Fernando Hierro

Not only strong in defense, Fernando Hierro is also recognized as one of the most productive defenders in scoring goals. The center-back was known as a good penalty and free kicks taker during playing for Real Madrid in the period 1989-2003. He even once scored a hat trick in a game against Real Zaragoza in 2002. Hierro's overall career in Madrid is also quite brilliant, in which he won five La Liga titles, three Champions League trophies, and two Intercontinental Cup trophies.

1. Carles Puyol

Considering his loyalty and quality as a defender, Carles Puyol is the one who deserves to occupy the top spot in the list of Spain's best defenders of all time. This player started his career at Barcelona in 1999 and he was trusted to be a captain from 2004 to 2014. During his period at Barcelona, ​​Puyol won six La Liga titles, three Champions League trophies, and two FIFA Club World Cup trophies. He also led the Spanish national team win the Euro 2008 and the World Cup 2010.

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