Hello again and back to my series of my top five favourite players in every position, up next is right-back!
Up first is Italy’s Gianluca Zambrotta, who at the ripe old age of 35 is a free agent and still openly looking for a club. His marauding, over-lapping runs down the right flank have thrilled club and Italian fans for two decades.
He was a World Cup winner in 2006 which was his first major international tournament final after he missed out on the 2000 European Championship final through injury.
To date he has made 587 appearances, scoring 28 goals, for his hometown club – Como, Bari and three of the world’s biggest clubs in Barcelona, Juventus and AC Milan. He won four Scudetti (two of which he was stripped of after the match-fixing scandal) with Juventus, two Super Coppas and an Intertoto Cup – this was his most successful club spell, notching up 217 appearances and being part of one of the best teams in the world at the time.
With Barcelona he won a Spanish Super Coppa before moving back to Italy and winning another Serie A and Super Coppa with Milan. He was a stalwart for the Italian national team, making 98 appearances and scoring two goals over an international career which spanned over 11 years.
|Gianluca Zambrotta lining up for Juventus|
Second up is a player who in his time at Manchester United I absolutely hated, but his reliability and professionalism in not only playing the game, but since retiring and becoming a pundit, has been admirable. Gary Neville is a player who is a one-club man, having stayed at Manchester United his entire career under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson. He was Mr. Reliable for United and was a key part of Man United’s dominance in the English league for the majority of his career.
By the end of his career, Neville was made Man United club captain on many occasions which showed Fergie’s trust in him. Over his career, Neville made 602 career appearances for Man United, scoring seven goals., he won eight Premier League titles, three FA cups, two league cups, three Community Shields and two Champions Leagues, also winning a Club World Cup and an Intercontinental cup. Neville is also England’s most capped right-back of all-time, notching up 85 caps for the National team.
|Neville celebrating a Man United goal|
Up next is France’s all-time highest appearance holder, Lilian Thuram. Thuram was a player who could probably have made the list at centre-back too due to his versatility and consistency in both positions.
Thuram made a total of 681 appearances, scoring 13 goals for his respective clubs – Monaco, Parma, Juventus & Barcelona; for these clubs he won a French cup, three Supercoppa Italia, one Coppa Italia, a UEFA cup and a Spanish Supercup. He is France’s all-time highest caps holder with 142 and is one of the 20 most capped players of all-time.
He only scored two goals for France but they both came in the same match, against Croatia in the 1998 World Cup. He won the World Cup with France in 1998 and was part of the successful France Euro 2000 squad.
Thuram was set to sign for PSG in 2008 but a heart defect was detected meaning he had to call time on his playing career.
|Thuram turning out for Juventus|
Penultimately in my countdown is a man who is very unlucky to not have finished first. Carlos Alberto is one of the most highly regarded defenders of all-time, he was known not just for his great tackling and reading of the game but for his outstanding ball control and playmaking abilities – which were rare for defenders during that time.
Alberto appeared for Fluminense, Santos, New York Cosmos and California Surf, his most fruitful time came at Santos where he made his name. After missing out on World Cup 1966, he was included in Brazil’s 1970 squad after the national team manager noticed his leadership flair. He won four Brazilian Championships with Santos and two Brazilian cups.
The thing people remember him most for is providing the emphatic finish afor what was voted as the greatest goal in World Cup history which was the final goal in the 1970 World Cup final which Carlos Alberto captained Brazil to.
In 2000, he was voted the greatest right-back of the century and is considered as one of the greatest Brazilians footballers of all-time.
|Carlos Alberto holding the World Cup|
My favourite right-back of all-time could only go to one man, and that man is Cafu. Cafu was known for his bombing, tireless runs down the right flank and his ability in the defending third.
He made 525 career appearances for Sao Paolo, Real Zaragoza, Palmeiras, Roma and AC Milan, scoring 18 club career goals. He won 11 titles with Sao Paolo along with an additional one at Palmeiras, he won the UEFA cup winners cup with Zaragoza, a Serie A with Roma as well as a Supercoppa Italia, his most fruitful time came at Milan where he won two UEFA supercups, one Serie A, one Supercoppa Italia, a Champions League and a Club World Cup.
His international career was no waste either, he made 142 appearances for the Brazilian national team, scoring five goals; he also won two World Cups, two Copa Americas and one Confederations Cup. He is one of only two players to feature in three World Cup finals, having won two. He is also one of 11 members in the AS Roma hall of fame.
|Cafu lifting the 2002 World Cup|