Top five right backs in the world

Philipp Lahm – Bayern Munich

Despite being listed as a right-back and being right footed, Lahm is equally adept at playing either right or left back, cutting in to pass or shoot.

He is well known for his pace, dribbling, stamina and his tackling abilities as well as his excellent reading of the game, his qualities have seen him widely regarded as the best full back in the world due to his consistently reliable displays for both club and country which saw him made captain for both.

Lahm’s club career has seen him rack up 484 appearances to date, scoring 16 goals as well as winning five Bundesliga titles, five DFB-pokal titles, two DFL-Supercups, one DFL-Ligapokal and a Champions League title. He was made Bayern Munich club captain in 2011 after the departure of Mark Van Bommel.

He has also captained the Germany national team since 2010 and he has made 98 appearances, scoring five goals.

 

Lukasz Piszczek – Borussia Dortmund

Yet another underrated defender in the Dortmund backline but has recently come to prominence with his performances for both Dortmund and the Polish national team.

His defensive attributes are never put in question but his real talents lie in attacking where his buccaneering runs and excellent delivery have often led to goals. Piszczek fits the mould of the modern day full back with his energy, pace and technique on the ball.

He has made 309 career club appearances, scoring 33 goals; as well as winning a Polish league title, two Bundesliga titles and one DFB-Pokal. He has made 34 appearances for the Polish national team, as well as notching two goals.

 

Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid

This will probably cause controversy because he’s seen as a centre back nowadays but I will always see Sergio Ramos as a right back, despite his versatility at being able to play anywhere across the back four as well.

Ramos could be seen as the complete defender with his versatility, pace, strength, aerial ability as well as his reading of the game and signature last-ditch tackles and blocks.

To date he has made 401 club career appearances, scoring 44 goals and winning three La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and two Supercopa de Espana titles.

Since his move from Sevilla to Real Madrid he has been an ever-present not just in the Real Madrid team but also the Spanish national team, earning his first cap aged 18, notching up 108 to date, scoring nine goals. He has been a huge part of the historic Spain team which has won a World Cup and two European Championships.

 

Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea

Ivanovic is another one on this list which is equally adept at playing in another position, providing suitable cover at centre back as well.

The big Serbian defender is known for his brute strength, pace and unbeatable aerial prowess. Whenever playing at right back he could also gallop forward and put in an excellent delivery.

Ivanovic’s fine 2012-13 season was topped off when he scored the winning goal in Chelsea’s Europa League final against Benfica in which they won 2 – 1, Ivanovic was also named man of the match in this encounter following his heroics.

He has made 347 career club appearances to date, scoring 35 goals. He has won one Russian Cup, one Premiership title, three FA Cup titles, one FA Community Shield, one Champions League and one UEFA Europa League. He has also made 61 appearances for the Serbian national thus far, notching seven goals.

 

Pablo Zabaleta – Manchester City

Zabaleta has earned himself a cult hero status amongst City fans because of his commitment to the club, hard-working attitude and tenacity as well as his consistency and versatility.

Zabaleta was Man City’s Mr. Reliable this season. He was even named stand-in captain when club captain Vincent Kompany was sidelined between January and March. After a superb season he was named Manchester City’s Player of the Year as well as being in the PFA Team of the Year at right back.

He has made 340 career club appearances to date, scoring 17 goals; as well as winning an Argentinian Cup, a Copa del Rey, one Premiership title, one FA Cup, one Community Shield.

The full back has also made 31 appearances for the Argentina national team, winning an Olympic Gold Medal along the way.

 

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Top five right backs of all-time

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