Nicknamed the Black Spider and widely considered the best goalkeeper ever (Yashin is that the only ‘keeper to ever win the Ballon d’Or and has a gift named after him). Spent his entire club career with Dynamo Moscow and won the ECU Championships in 1960 with the Soviet Union.
Made a reputation for himself at Manchester United, winning 15 honors with the club including the 1999 treble. Schmeichel also helped Denmark win the ECU Championships in 1992.
Edwin van der Sar
Another former Man Utd goalkeeper. Van der Sar tasted glory just about wherever he went, in Netherlands, England, and Italy. Among his honors are eight league titles and two Champions Leagues.
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Will forever be remembered because of the goalkeeper in Arsenal’s Invincible season. But Lehmann also holds the record for the longest time without conceding within the Champions League, going 853 minutes between 2005 and 2006.
One of the best defenders of all time, both at left-back and center-back. Maldini was a one-club man, spending his entire senior career (which began in 1984 and fell one year in need of spanning four separate decades) with AC Milan. Won seven league titles and five Champions Leagues, including two as captain, and came third within the Ballon d’Or awards twice.
Another Italian Ballon d’Or runner-up and one-club-man Milan legend. The Milan team Baresi captained were European Cup finalists in five out of seven seasons under Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello (1989 – 1995). Also won the 1982 World Cup but didn’t make an appearance at the tournament proper.
An attacking full-back like no other during his time. Carlos Alberto captained Brazil as they won the planet Cup in 1970 scoring within the final against Italy (some consider it the foremost iconic goal in football history).
One of the newer Italian legends. Fabio Cannavaro led the national side to the planet Cup in 2006 and received the Ballon d’Or as recognition of his heroics (he remains the last defender to win it, as of 2019). He also added two Uefa Cups and two Spanish titles.
England’s World Cup-winning captain of 1966 and therefore the greatest defender Pele ever encountered, whose statue welcomes visitors to Wembley. He amassed 108 caps for the national team, a record that stood till David Beckham surpassed it in 2009. Moore spent most of his club career at boyhood team West Ham but was a national treasure; a BBC poll conducted in 2002 placed him 69th on an inventory of the 100 Greatest Britons, just before Austen.
Yet another legendary Italian defender. Nesta spent most of his club career in Serie A with Lazio and Milan, winning three league titles and two Champions Leagues. Also won the planet Cup in 2006 with Italy, thought the achievement was bittersweet therein he missed the knockout stages through injury.
A man is synonymous with Barcelona. Puyol rose through La Masia to become one of the club’s most successful players. Alongside his footballing talent, Puyol is understood for his character and leadership skills. Xavi once described this as “the key” to Barcelona winning six league titles and 4 Champions Leagues to feature in his World Cup and European Championships with Spain.
Zanetti made a reputation for himself at Inter Milan, playing right-back for the Serie A club although he also featured in midfield. While at Inter, Zanetti won five league titles and therefore the Champions League among other trophies.