The 5 Best Argentine Defenders of All Time

Best Argentine Defenders of All Time: Argentine defenders, from the lively streets of Buenos Aires to the global World Cup stage, have left an indelible mark on football. Known for their mix of strong resolve and artistic flair, players like Daniel Passarella, Ayala, and Zanetti have built a legacy of defensive brilliance. This journey explores their impact, celebrating the unique style that captivates fans and challenges opponents. Join us for a quick ride through tackles, headers, and audacious dribbles, showcasing the best of Argentina’s defensive prowess.

Best Argentine Defenders of All Time

In this article, we talk about the Best Argentine Defenders of All Time.

5. Nicolás Otamendi

  • Date of Birth (Age): 12 February 1988 (35)
  • Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
  • Position(s): Centre-back

Kicking off our list of the “Best Argentine Defenders” at the fifth spot is Nicolás Otamendi, a 2022 World Cup champion. Early in his career, Otamendi played for Vélez Sarsfield and Porto, securing eight major titles with Porto, including three Primeira Liga championships and the 2011 Europa League.

His journey continued with Valencia in 2014, a brief loan to Atlético Mineiro in Brazil, and a move to Manchester City in 2015. At City, he clinched back-to-back Premier League titles in 2018 and 2019, along with several domestic cups. In 2020, Otamendi returned to Portugal with Benfica, winning another league title and the Portuguese Super Cup.

Since 2009, Otamendi has been a key player for the Argentina national team, amassing over 100 appearances. He participated in three FIFA World Cups and four Copas América, securing the 2021 Copa América and the 2022 World Cup in his fourth attempt, playing every minute of Argentina’s successful campaign.

4. Oscar Ruggeri

  • Date of Birth (Age): 26 January 1962 (61)
  • Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
  • Position(s): Centre-back

Ranked fourth among the “Best Argentine Defenders” is Oscar Ruggeri, fondly known as El Cabezón. He played a crucial role in Argentina’s 1986 World Cup victory and secured two Copa América titles.

At the club level, Ruggeri excelled with River Plate, claiming the 1986 Copa Libertadores, the 1986 Copa Interamericana, and the 1986 Intercontinental Cup. Known for his tough marking and aerial prowess, Ruggeri is celebrated as one of Argentina’s greatest defenders.

Post-retirement, he pursued coaching and later became a football commentator on ESPN Argentina Latin America’s 90 Minutos de Fútbol.

3. Roberto Ayala

  • Date of Birth (Age): 14 April 1973 (50)
  • Height: 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
  • Position(s): Centre-back

Considered one of the greatest defenders in football history, Ayala was renowned for his exceptional aerial ability, robust tackling, and consistent leadership. As a versatile defender, he showcased speed, skill on the ball, and precise passing accuracy as a centre-back.

Ayala contributed his defensive prowess to various clubs, including Valencia and Real Zaragoza in Spain, Milan and Napoli in Italy, and Ferro Carril, River Plate, and Racing Club in Argentina. Notably, he played a crucial role as a centre-back for the Argentina national football team, captaining the squad in a record 63 matches.

Despite his smaller stature for a centre-back, Ayala stood out for his commanding presence in the air. He participated in three FIFA World Cups, amassing 115 international appearances, ranking among the top players in terms of caps, behind only Javier Mascherano, Javier Zanetti, and Lionel Messi.

2. Javier Zanetti

  • Date of Birth (Age): 10 August 1973 (50)
  • Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
  • Position(s): Right Wing-back / Right winger / Defensive midfielder

Javier Zanetti, a legendary full-back for Inter Milan and the Argentina national team, was known for his remarkable physical attributes, including speed, strength, and fitness. His prime showcased excellent ball control, dribbling, technical skills, and acceleration. Defensively, he was adept at reading the game, winning balls, and marking opponents, while also showcasing passing accuracy and vision.

Zanetti, a two-way and two-footed player, could perform well on either flank, contributing both defensively and offensively by crossing balls for teammates. His preferred position was right-back, and he’s regarded as one of the best full-backs in history.

Starting his career in Argentina with Tallares and Banfield, Zanetti joined Inter Milan in 1995 and spent his entire career there. With over 850 matches for the club, he holds the record for the most appearances in Inter’s history. His illustrious career with Inter includes 5 Serie A titles, 4 Italian Cups, a UEFA Cup in 1998, and the prestigious Champions League in 2010.

While Zanetti didn’t achieve the same level of success with the Argentina national team, he remains one of the country’s best players with 145 caps. Although he reached the Copa América finals in 2004 and 2007, he didn’t secure a major title with the national team.

Upon retiring, Inter Milan retired Zanetti’s number 4 jersey, and he became the club’s vice president. FIFA appointed him as an ambassador for the SOS Children’s Villages project in Argentina, and in 2005, he received the Ambrogino d’Oro award from the city of Milan for his social initiatives.

1. Daniel Passarella

  • Date of Birth (Age): 25 May 1953 (70)
  • Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
  • Position(s): Centre-back, sweeper

Daniel Passarella is widely regarded as the greatest Argentine defender of all time. Known for his physicality and tenacity, he often led his defensive line. What set him apart was not only his defensive prowess but also his goal-scoring ability, with an impressive tally of 165 goals throughout his career. This combination of defensive solidity and attacking threat solidifies his status as one of the best central defenders in history.

Passarella’s journey began with Sarmiento in Argentina, but he quickly became a defensive stalwart for the renowned River Plate, winning the national championship six times. He later ventured to Fiorentina and Inter Milan before concluding his career with a return to River Plate for his final season.

However, Passarella’s legacy shines brightest in the context of the national team. He captained Argentina to their first World Cup victory in 1978 and achieved the remarkable feat of winning a second World Cup in 1986, even though he did not play in the final phase. This makes Passarella a unique figure in Argentine football history, solidifying his place as one of the country’s greatest players of all time.

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