Top 10 Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time

Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time: Real Madrid is the most successful club in European football, and it has some really great defenders. These defenders played a big part in the team’s success by protecting the goal and stopping the other team from scoring. They were determined, skilled, and smart on the field.

Because of these defenders, Real Madrid won many La Liga titles, UEFA Champions League trophies, and other awards. This made Real Madrid one of the best teams in the world of football.

Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the best defenders that Real Madrid has ever had.

10. Míchel Salgado

  • Date of Birth: 22 October 1975 (age 48 Year)
  • Height: 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)
  • Position(s): Right-back

Let’s begin our list of the best defenders in Real Madrid’s history with the tenth spot going to Míchel Salgado. He joined Real Madrid in 1999.

During his time with the team, he achieved significant success, winning the Spanish championship four times and the Champions League twice.

However, in 2009, both Salgado and Real Madrid agreed to end their contract. Shortly after, on August 19, 2009, he signed with Blackburn Rovers.

9. Dani Carvajal

  • Date of Birth: 11 January 1992 (age 31 Year)
  • Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
  • Position(s): Right-back

Ranked at number 9 in the list of “Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time” is Dani Carvajal. After delivering strong performances for Leverkusen, Real Madrid used their buyback option to bring Carvajal back to the team. He signed a six-season contract until June 30, 2019.

During the 2013/14 season, Carvajal played a crucial role as Real Madrid won the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League. He continued his success in the 2014/15 season, securing victories in the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. Carvajal maintained his position as the starting right-back and extended his contract in preparation for the 2015/16 season.

Under coach Zinédine Zidane, Carvajal achieved notable success, winning a total of nine titles with Real Madrid between 2016 and 2018, including three more Champions League trophies and a league championship. Despite being substituted due to injuries in the 2016 and 2018 Champions League finals, he remained a key player. His contract was extended multiple times, first until the end of June 2022 in September 2017, and later until the end of June 2025 in July 2021. In 2022, Carvajal secured his third Spanish championship and his fifth Champions League title with Real Madrid.

8. Raphaël Varane

  • Date of Birth: 25 April 1993 (age 30 Year)
  • Height: 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
  • Position(s): Centre-back

Taking the eighth spot in the ranking of “Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time” is Raphaël Varane. In the 2011/12 season, Varane joined Real Madrid in the Spanish Primera División at the age of 18, signing a contract until June 30, 2017. Initially, he served as a substitute behind experienced defenders Sergio Ramos and Pepe.

Varane showcased his potential during the 2012/13 Copa del Rey semi-finals against FC Barcelona. He started both legs, scored a goal in each, and displayed confident defensive skills. In the victorious final of the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League, he surprised everyone by starting in place of the injured Pepe. Varane signed a new six-year contract in September 2014, extending until June 30, 2020. His contributions increased in the 2014/15 season with 46 competitive games.

Despite facing challenges and losing his regular spot in the 2015/16 season due to Pepe’s injuries, Varane regained prominence under coach Zinédine Zidane. From the 2016/17 season onward, he played a crucial role in Real Madrid’s successes, including two more Champions League and La Liga titles, as well as victories in the Supercopa de España, FIFA Club World Cup, and UEFA Super Cup twice each. In September 2017, he extended his contract until the end of June 2022. However, after a season without winning titles in 2020/21, Varane announced his departure from Real Madrid a year before the end of his contract.

7. Marcelo

  • Date of Birth: 12 May 1988 (age 35 Year)
  • Height: 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)
  • Position(s): Left-back

Ranked seventh among the “Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time” is Marcelo. Joining in 2007 at 18, he replaced Roberto Carlos. Despite defensive critiques, Marcelo’s offensive prowess contributed to winning the league under coach Bernd Schuster.

Image Source: Instagram

He shifted to left midfield under Juande Ramos and played as a winger under Manuel Pellegrini. Marcelo, despite uncertainties in 2010, impressed Mourinho and maintained his speed and skills. Even with the arrival of Coentrão in 2011/12, Marcelo won his third championship and was named the world’s best left-back by FIFA.

Under Carlo Ancelotti, he played a crucial role in winning the Spanish Cup and the UEFA Champions League in 2013/14. Marcelo extended his contract, becoming one of the world’s best left-backs, winning titles under Zinédine Zidane. In the 2021/22 season, Marcelo became the captain, securing his 24th and 25th titles by winning the championship and the Champions League. He officially left the club on June 13, 2022.

6. Pepe

  • Date of Birth: 26 February 1983 (age 40 Year)
  • Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
  • Position(s): Centre-back

Taking the sixth position in the “Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time” ranking is Pepe. He joined Real Madrid in the summer for around 30 million euros and won the Spanish championship in his first season.

However, Pepe gained notoriety for losing his temper during a match against Getafe FC in 2009. He received a red card for kicking an opponent, leading to a suspension for ten league games. Over the years, he continued to attract attention for excessive fouls and unsportsmanlike behavior, getting sent off six times while playing for Real Madrid.

Despite facing criticism, Pepe’s skills and aerial strength helped him secure a regular spot in the team. He extended his contract in 2011 for another five years. Pepe played a significant role in winning the championship in the 2011/12 season and the Champions League two years later. After additional successes, including two more Champions League titles (2016, 2017) and a retirement announcement at the end of the 2016/17 season, Pepe left Real Madrid. The club had offered him a one-year contract extension, which he declined.

5. Manuel Sanchís

  • Date of Birth: 26 March 1938
  • Height: 1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)
  • Position(s): Defender

Ranked fifth among the “Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time” is Manuel Sanchís. Sanchís started playing for Real Madrid at the age of 14, known for his strong duels and good overview on the field. He debuted on December 4, 1983, alongside Martín Vázquez, marking the beginning of Quinta del Buitre’s successful era at Real Madrid. In his first appearance, he scored his first goal of the season and made 17 appearances in the 1983-84 season.

Over the years, Sanchís became an indispensable part of the defense for Real Madrid. From 1985 to 1990, the team won the Spanish championship five times in a row and the UEFA Cup in 1985 and 1986. Under coach Jupp Heynckes in 1998, Sanchís captained the team to their seventh Champions League triumph after 32 years. By the time he retired in 2001, he had added another Champions League title to his achievements.

Sanchís served as captain and a symbol of identity for Real Madrid for 13 years, playing a total of 710 games in all competitions. This made him the third-highest appearance-maker for the ‘Merengues’ behind Raúl and Iker Casillas.

4. Fabio Cannavaro

  • Date of Birth: 13 September 1973 (age 50 Year)
  • Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
  • Position(s): Centre-back

Securing the fourth position in the “Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time” ranking is Fabio Cannavaro. Despite the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 2006, amidst a manipulation scandal, Cannavaro became a defensive stalwart for Real Madrid and a fan favorite.

Source: Instagram

In his first season with coach Fabio Capello, they clinched the Spanish championship, successfully defending the title the next season. While Cannavaro excelled domestically, international success in the Champions League eluded him during his three seasons at Real Madrid. The team was eliminated in the round of 16 each time.

After the 2008/09 season, Cannavaro’s contract expired, and he moved back to his former club Juventus Turin on a free transfer, which had returned to Serie A in 2006/07.

3. Fernando Hierro

  • Date of Birth: 23 March 1968 (age 55 Year)
  • Height: 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)
  • Position(s): Defender, defensive midfielder

Earning the third spot on the “Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time” list is Fernando Hierro. After making his La Liga debut with Real Valladolid, he was bought by Real Madrid in the summer of 1989 following two impressive seasons.

Hierro made an immediate impact at Real Madrid, scoring seven goals in 37 games in his first season. Under coach Radomir Antić, he continued to excel, and his position on the field was advanced. Over three seasons, he scored an impressive 44 league goals, with 21 alone in the 1991–92 season, marking a career-best.

Throughout the years, Hierro frequently partnered with club legend Manolo Sanchís in the center of the defense. His contributions were crucial in winning five leagues and three UEFA Champions League trophies. After Sanchís’ retirement, Hierro was named captain, solidifying his legacy at Real Madrid.

2. Roberto Carlos

  • Date of Birth: 10 April 1973 (age 50 Year)
  • Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
  • Position(s): Left-back

Securing the second position in the “Real Madrid Best Defenders of All Time” ranking is Roberto Carlos. He made the move to Real Madrid in 1996.

Image Source: Instagram

During his time with the club, Roberto Carlos achieved remarkable success, winning the UEFA Champions League three times (1998, 2000, and 2002), the subsequent World Cup twice (1998 and 2002), and the Spanish championship four times (1997, 2001, 2003, and 2007).

His impact on both the club and international stage solidifies his standing as one of the greatest defenders in Real Madrid’s history.

1. Sergio Ramos

  • Date of Birth: 30 March 1986 (age 37 Year)
  • Height: 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
  • Position(s): Defender

The title of the Best Real Madrid Defender of All Time belongs to Sergio Ramos. He joined Real Madrid in the 2005/06 season, taking over the iconic shirt number 4 from Fernando Hierro. Ramos immediately made an impact, consistently playing over 23 league games in every season. He won La Liga in 2007, 2008, 2012, 2017, and 2020, along with the Supercopa de España in 2008 and the Copa del Rey in 2011, where a celebratory mishap damaged the trophy.

Image Source: Instagram

Ramos equaled Fernando Hierro’s sending-off record in 2010, receiving his tenth red card in 175 games for Real Madrid. He achieved remarkable success in the UEFA Champions League, winning it in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018. The 2017 victory was particularly special as it involved defending the title, a historic feat. Ramos played a crucial role in the 2014 final with a goal against Atlético Madrid and scored in the 2016 final against Atlético as well.

Recognized for his excellence, Ramos was voted into the “Eleven of the Year” multiple times by European Sports Media, FIFA/FIFPro, and UEFA. He extended his contract until 2020 in 2015. Despite controversies, including revelations of past doping offenses in 2018, Ramos remained a pivotal figure for Real Madrid.

After 16 years with the club, Ramos left Real Madrid in 2021 due to contractual disagreements. His legacy includes numerous championships, a remarkable goal-scoring record for a defender, and a lasting impact on the club’s history.

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