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Ranking the Top 10 Best Left Backs in Soccer History

Best Left Backs in Soccer

The left-back position is not a fascinating position a player wants to play. However, playing at left back is a tough job as the player has to constantly defend their team from the opponent strikers. Further, they also need to run miles in a match to maintain the defense line and communicate with the midfield as well as strikers to orchestrate the attacks. The role is vital for any team to win the match. 

Over the last century, some exceptionally talented players nail down the spot brilliantly. In this article, we will discuss those excellent players and go through the list of 10 best left backs of all time.

#10. Andreas Brehme, Germany

Andreas Brehme

(Photo by Lutz Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

World Cup: 1

UEFA Cup: 1

Andreas “Andy” Brehme is a German retired professional footballer who played in the left-back position.

At the international level, Brehme appeared in 3 World Cups, in which he won the World Cup in 1990, where he scored the winning goal against Argentina. His penalty kick at the 85th-minute is the one goal that made him one of the legendary left-backs of all time. Brehme also participated in 3 Euro Cups.

Apart from his success at the international level, Brehme played for various other clubs such as FC Internazionale, FC Kaiserslautern, and Bayern Munich. Brehme won one UEFA Cup, one Italian Super Cup with FC Internazionale. During his time in Bayern Munich, Brehme won one German Championship and one German Super Cup. He also played in German Olympic Team in 1983.

During his club career, Brehme appeared in 609 matches where he scored 78 goals and had 00 caps for the German National Team.

#09. Bixente Lizarazu, France

Bixente Lizarazu

Bixente Lizarazu of France 98 runs with the ball during the friendly match between France 98 and FIFA 98 at U Arena on June 12, 2018 in Nanterre, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

World Cup:

Champions League:

Confederations Cup: 2

Bixente Jean-Michel Lizarazu was one of the best left backs in the France National Team. With exceptional speed and reflex, he is also considered one of the best left backs of all time. During his whole career, he played in the left-back position for Bordeaux and Bayern Munich.

At the international level, Lizararzu participated in two World Cups and three Euro Cups, in which he won the World Cup in 1998. He also won the European Championship in 2000. Lizarazu also dominated in the Confederations Cup, winning it twice in 2001 and 2003. 

He achieved his golden days while he played for Bayern Munich. Lizarazu won 5 German Cups and 6 German Championships. Apart from that, he also won one Champions League Trophy in 2000 and one Intercontinental Cup in 2001. Lizarazu’s defensive ability helped Bayern Munich to win 4 German League through 4 consecutive years (1997-2000).

Until his retirement, Lizarazu appeared in 457 club matches as well as earned 97 caps for the French National Team.

#08. Rudd Krol, Netherlands

Rudd Krol

World Cup: 2 Runners-up

Dutch Championships: 6

Dutch Cup: 4

Rudolf Jozef Krol, also known as Rudd Krol, was a Dutch professional footballer who mostly played for Ajax Amsterdam. He played 83 times for the Netherlands National Team.  Krol was so talented that he could play at any position. However, some minor flaws in his defensive technique placed him in the 8th position of our top 10 left backs list.

Rudd couldn’t win any World Cup for his national team. But, he helped to team to reach the 1974 World Cup final and 1978 World Cup final. He also participated in Euro Cup but failed to succeed.

Rudd had a great performance during his time in Ajax. He won 3 European Champion Clubs’ Cup as well as 6 Dutch Championships, 4 Dutch Cups, and 1 Intercontinental Cup (1972). He also led Ajax to win UEFA Supercup twice in a row (1971, 1972).

#07. Paul Breitner, West Germany

Paul Breitner

Getty Images

World Cup: 1

Spanish Championship: 2

Paul Breitner was a German professional footballer who played as a left-back and midfielder. Regarded as one of the top rated left backs ever, Paul was famous for his partnerships with Berti Vogts and Franz Beckenbauer in defending the German national team.

At the international level, Paul won the 1974 World Cup. But that’s not the end of it. He also won the European Championship in 1972. Despite his first World Cup success, he helped German National Team to reach the 1982 World Cup final but failed to win the trophy.

His club career was also great. When he played for Bayern Munich, Paul won 1 European Champions Clubs’ Cup, 5 German Championships, and 2 German Cups. He also had a brilliant performance in Real Madrid, where he won 2 Spanish Championships and 1 Spanish Cup.

Breitner won the UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament in 1972. He received Footballer of the Year in 1981 and the prestigious FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 1974. Paul was capped 48 times for West Germany.

#06. Ashley Cole, England

Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole of Derby County looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Derby County at City Ground on February 25, 2019 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

English Championship: 3

Champions League: 1

Europa League: 1

Ashley Cole is a left-back English retired football player who played in the Premier League Clubs Chelsea and Arsenal. 

At the international level, Cole represented England in 3 World Cups and 2 Euro Cups but failed to win any of them. However, Cole won English Championship twice for Arsenal as well as 6 English Supercups and 3 English FA Cups. He also won one Champions League Trophy, one Europa League Trophy, one English League Cup, and 2 English Supercups during his time in Chelsea. 

Cole received the UEFA Team of the Year award in both 2004 and 2010 along with the England Player of the Year award in 2010.

Cole had 107 caps for the England National Team.

#05. Marcelo, Brazil


Getty Images

Champions League: 4

Spanish Championship: 5

Confederations Cup: 1

Marcelo, plays in the left-back defensive position for Brazil National Team and famous Spanish club Real Madrid. 

Despite his great talent, Marcelo has not achieved any major trophy in the international level except one Confederations Cup (2013). He won the Olympic Bronze Medal (2008) and Olympic Silver Medal (2012) for his country. However, his performance in the Real Madrid club is extraordinary.

As a left-back in Real Madrid, Marcelo is the winner of 4 Champions League Trophies, 5 Spanish Championships, 2 Spanish Cups, 4 Spanish Super Cups, 4 FIFA Club World Cups, and 3 UEFA Supercups. He also received the UEFA Team of the Year award 3 times, the FIFA Pro World XI award 6 times, and secured 2nd position in the Samba Gold award. Undoubtedly, Marcelo is one of the best Brazilian’s left backs ever.

Marcelo has 58 caps for Brazil National Team and played a total of 364 games in Real Madrid.

#04. Philipp Lahm, Germany

Philipp Lahm

Image: Fifa

World Cup: 1

Champions League: 1

German Championship: 6

Philipp Lahm was a German professional footballer who played mostly for Bayern Munich as a defensive midfielder or right back. As the captain of Bayern Munich, he led the team to numerous victories and championships.

At the international level, Lahm was also the captain of the German National Team. He led them to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup as well as 3 Euro Cup Participants, one time Euro Cup runner-up. He also played in the Confederations Cup. In the 2010 World Cup, Lahm was the one and the only player to play every single minute of the game. However, the 2014 World Cup was the last international trophy he won before taking retirement.

As a left-back and captain of Bayern Munich, he won 1 Champions League Trophy and 1 FIFA Club World Cup. Additionally, he led the team to win 8 German Championships, where he won the last 5 of them in a row. He also won 6 German Cups and 3 German Supercups. In 2000 and 2001, Lahm won the German Under-19 Bundesliga Championships.

Lahm was so talented that he received the left-back position in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 2006 and FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2010. He also received the Footballer of the Year award in 2019.

He played 332 matches for Bayern Munich including German Cup, UEFA Champions League, and UEFA Cup. Lahm had 113 caps for German National Team.

#03. Giacinto Facchetti, Italy

World Cup: Runners-up

European Championship: 1

Italian Championship: 4

Giacinto Facchetti

Getty Images

Giacinto Facchetti was an Italian professional footballer who played for Inter Milan as a right back. He is considered one of the best left backs in the world due to his intelligence, stamina, pace, and physique. During his time in Inter Milan, he formed a devastating partnership with full-back defender Tarcisio Burgnich.

Facchetti represented Italian National Team in 3 World Cups and 1 Euro Cup. However, he could not win any World Cup. But, Facchetti helped Italy to reach the final of the 1970 World Cup. Facchetti also won the European Championship in 1968.

Let’s talk about his club achievements. Facchetti played for Inter Milan throughout his entire professional career, where he won 2 Intercontinental Cups, 4 Italian Championships. He was also the winner of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup twice. Facchetti scored 59 goals in Serie A.

Facchetti received the Golden Foot “Football Legends” award in 2006 as well as FIFA Presidential Award. In 1970, he was given a left-back position in FIFA World Cup All-Star Team. 

During his time in Inter Milan, Facchetti played a total of 476 games and had 94 caps for Italian National Team. Facchetti was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2015. 

#02. Roberto Carlos, Brazil

Roberto Carlos

Image ESPN

World Cup: 1

Copa America: 2

Champions League: 3

Confederations Cup:1

Roberto Carlos began playing in Brazil as a forward, but later, he switched as a left-back. Carlos is considered one of the best Brazilian’s left backs ever. His extraordinary free-kick and bending shots made him immortal in football history. His 40-yard bending free-kick against France in Tournoi de France will be remembered for decades.

At the international level, Carlos advanced to the World Cup Final in 1998 but failed to win the trophy. However, he won the World Cup in 2002. Carlos is also 2 times Copa America winner and one Confederations Cup winner. After the 2006 World Cup, Carlos faced so much criticism from fans that he was forced to take retirement from international matches,

During his time in Real Madrid, Carlos won 3 Champions League Trophies, 2 Intercontinental Cups, 4 Spanish Championships, 1 UEFA Supercup, and 3 Spanish Supercups. He played a total of 370 matches in Real Madrid and 125 caps for the Brazilian National Team.

Carlos received the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1997 and the Trofeo EEE award in 1997-1998. He also won the UEFA Club Defender of the Year award and the UEFA Team of the Year award. In 2008, he received the Golden Foot award.

#01. Paolo Maldini, Italy

Paolo Maldini

Image: IMDB

World Cup: Runner-up 

Champions League: 3

Italian Championship: 7

UEFA Supercup: 4

Paolo Cesare Maldini is an Italian retired footballer who played in the central defender and left-back position for Italy National Team and A.C. Milan. Without any doubt, Paolo is the best left back in the world as well as the greatest left-back in the Italian National Team history. Paolo received the nickname “Il Capitano” due to his leadership in Milan and Italy. Maldini had the record of 647 appearances in Serie A until Gianluigi Buffon overtook him in 2020.

At the international level, Maldini participated in 4 World Cups and led his team to the World Cup final in 1994. He was also UEFA European Championship runner-up in 2000 and UEFA European Under-21 Championship runner-up in 1986.

However, he achieved huge success in Milan, where he won 3 Champions League Trophies, 2 Intercontinental Cups, one FIFA Club World Cup, one Italian Cup, and 5 Italian Super Cups. Additionally, he won 7 Italian Championships and 4 UEFA Supercups.

Maldini received numerous awards, including the Bravo Award (1989), World Soccer Player of the Year award (1994), FIFA World Player of the Year (1995), UEFA President’s Award (2003), and many more.

Maldini appeared in 647 matches for Milan and earned 126 caps for Italy National Team.


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