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Best Manchester United Defenders of all time

Sun 24 January 2021 | 14:30

Manchester United have had some of the best defenders in English football history over the years. Read on to find out more about the best Manchester United defenders of all time.

Throughout the last century, history has repeatedly proven that football is the most popular and widespread sport in the world; In many critical football games, fans of different teams shed tears when their favorite team wins or loses and stand in long queues for hours to attend stadiums.

The presence of big and strong teams has doubled the appeal and popularity of football. Major football clubs around the world include

Manchester United

in England,

Real Madrid

in Spain,

Juventus

in Italy,

Bayern Munich

in Germany,

Paris Saint-Germain

in France and

Porto

Portugal.

Each of these great clubs has hosted the great stars of the football world. In this case, Manchester United is one of the most famous, strongest and most popular clubs in the world.

In this article, we will introduce

best defenders in the Manchester United club's history

.

Best Manchester United Defenders of all time

In the following, we have a brief overview of the history and honors of Manchester United and then a list of the best ever Manchester United defenders.

Brief History of Manchester United Club

Manchester United is one of the oldest, most prestigious and most popular clubs in the world.

Manchester United Football Club is one of the professional football clubs in the

English Premier League

. The club was founded in 1878 as the Newton Heath Football Club and played its first official game against the

Bolton Wanderers

on November 20, 1880.

On April 24, 1902, a club called Manchester United was officially formed, and the club's first honor was to win the runner-up title in the Second Division in 1906 and advance to the First Division. Manchester United won the first division in 1908 for the first time, which is Manchester United's first league title.

The Red Devils home stadium is Old Trafford, a 5-star stadium. In Europe, with the exception of this stadium, only the Stade de France in Paris has such an address.

Manchester United was the highest paid football club in the world in 2016-17 with an annual revenue of € 676.3 million, and in 2019 it was the third most valuable football club in the world with a value of £ 3.15 billion ($ 3.81 billion). In addition, since 2015, Manchester United has been the most valuable football brand in the world, valued at $ 1.2 billion.

Manchester United is an English football club which is known to be one of the greatest clubs in the world. Also known as "The Red Devils", they have won numerous titles in their history, most of which with their legendary coach, Sir Alex Ferguson.

They are the most decorated club among the English clubs with 20 Premier League titles, which is also a record, 3 UEFA Champions leagues (one of which was in the format of " European champion clubs' cup"), 12 English FA Cups, 5 English League Cups, 1 FIFA Clubs World Cup, 1 Europa League, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 1 Cup Winners cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup and 21 English Super Cups.

They are one of the 5 clubs to have won all 3 UEFA Clubs' competitions (Champions League, Super Cup and Europa League). Every club requires a firm and strong defense line if they are to win trophies, and this was what Man United has had in their achievements.

The following is a list of some of the best Manchester United defenders of all time:

The following Manchester United defenders have had many legendary defenders who played a pivotal role in the club's successes. These defenders will be remembered forever by their fans.

Jaap Stam

  • Full name: Jakob Stam

  • Date of birth: 17 July 1972 (age 49

    )

  • Place of birth: Kampen, Netherlands

  • Height: 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Centre-back

Jakob "Jaap" Stam, born 17 July 1972, is a Dutch football manager for

FC Cincinnati

in

Major League Soccer

and former professional player.

Stam played primarily as a center-back. He was known for possessing a rare combination of speed, strength, and ball-playing ability, as well as an excellent positional sense.

The Dutch strong defender has played for numerous clubs in his career including Manchester United from 1998 to 2001, where he was named the best UEFA Champions league defender in 1999 and 2000. He is regarded as one of the

best Manchester United defenders of all time

.

He has played in 127 games for the Red Devils and was a vital player in claiming  3 consecutive Premier League titles, 1 Champions League title in 1999, 1 English FA Cup and 1 Intercontinental Cup.

Furthermore, Stam has won 4 Dutch Super Cups, 1 Netherland League and 2 Dutch Cups when he was playing in his homeland country for

Ajax

and

PSV Eindhoven

. He has also won 1 Italian Cup with

Lazio

in 2004 and 1 Italian Super Cup with

AC Milan

in 2005.

Stam has made 66 international appearances and represented his national team in 3 Euros and 1 World Cup in 1998. He was a fast, powerful player with excellent skills with the ball that have made him one of the best ever Manchester United defenders.

Gary Pallister

  • Full name: Gary Andrew Pallister

  • Date of birth: 30 June 1965 (age 56

    )

  • Place of birth: Ramsgate, Kent, England

  • Height: 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Centre-back

Gary Andrew Pallister, born 30 June 1965, is an English former professional footballer and sports television pundit

.

As a player, Pallister was a defender from 1984 to 2001 and is most noted for his nine-year spell at Manchester United from 1989 until 1998. He also played for

Middlesbrough

and

Darlington

and was capped 22 times by England between 1988 and 1996.

Pallister is one of the most remarkable defenders in the history of the club who has spent 9 years at Old Trafford. He has made a total of 437 appearances for the Red Devils and has scored 15 goals.

Moreover, the strong defender has won numerous titles with Manchester United including 4 Premier League titles, 3 English FA Cups, 1 English League Cup, 1 UEFA Cup winners' cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup and 8 English Super Cups.

Pallister is considered as one of the

best Manchester United defenders ever

due to his achievements and astounding performances on the pitch. He was a tall defender with great aerial ability with a high pace and excellent ball control.

He was voted the PFA (Professional footballers' Association) player of the year in 1992. Moreover, he has also played for Middlesbrough both before and after joining Manchester United.

However, Pallister was not able to win any major trophies with them. He still comes to Old Trafford as a pundit for MUTV from time to time and has been a regular face for the fans.

Denis Irwin

  • Full name: Joseph Denis Irwin

  • Date of birth: 31 October 1965 (age 56

    )

  • Place of birth: Cork, Ireland

  • Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Left back

Joseph Denis Irwin, born 31 October 1965, is an Irish former professional footballer who played as a left back from 1983 to 2004

.

Irwin is best known for his long and successful stint at Manchester United, where he established himself as one of the most important players in the United team.

Irwin was Manchester United's player for 12 years from 1990 to 2002 and is regarded as one of the all-time best Manchester United defenders. He was primarily a left back. However, he played as a right back on several occasions.

Irwin has played in 456 matches for the team and scored 33 goals and provided 23 assists. Furthermore, he is the United's second most-decorated by winning 7 Premier titles, 3 English FA Cups, 1 Champions League, 1 English League Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 1 UEFA Cup winners' cup, 1 UEFA Super cup and 4 English Super Cups.

The Irish legend had a keen eye for goal and was an irreplaceable player in the squad of the team that managed to win a double in 1994 (Premier League and FA Cup), and also was a very crucial player in repeating that two years later.

Eventually, he ended his glittering career with Manchester United in 2002 by joining

Wolverhampton Wanderers

in 2002 and spent the last 2 years of his career with the Wolves. Moreover, he has made 56 appearances for Irish national team and scored 4 goals.

Irwin is a very notable player in the history of the Red Devils and is undisputedly one of the best Manchester United defenders of all time.

Tony Dunne

  • Full name: Anthony Peter Dunne

  • Date of birth: 24 July 1941

  • Place of birth: Dublin, Ireland

  • Date of death: 8 June 2020 (aged 80

    )

  • Height: 1.69 m (5 ft 6.5 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Left-back

Anthony Peter Dunne (24 July 1941 – 8 June 2020) was an Irish footballer who played as a left-back. Born in Dublin, he began his career with youth side Stella Maris before signing for Drumcondra-based Shelbourne, with whom he won the FAI Cup in his second year in the senior team in 1960.

Anthony Peter Dunne was an Irish left back who played for Manchester United for 13 years and proved to be a remarkable player in the history of the Red Devils. He had played in the Irish club Shelbourn before joining Man United in 1960, and had won 1 Irish Cup with them.

Dunne went on to become an essential part of the squad in the following years, helping them secure 2 Premier League titles, 1 European Champion clubs' cup as well as 1 English FA Cup and deserved the medals as much as the goal strikers did.

Moreover, he has played in 535 matches for the club during his stay at Old Trafford. He was definitely a star in the pioneering team of Sir Matt Busby in the 60s. He stood out for his strength, abilities in anticipating the opponent and pace.

Dunne finally left Manchester in 1973 and joined Bolton Wanderers where he went on to play in more than 200 matches, which proves that the Red Devils might have released him too early.

The Irish man has made a total of 33 appearances for the republic of Ireland national team during a 14-year international career. Furthermore, Dunne is known by the fans as one of the

best Manchester United defenders of all time

.

Steve Bruce

  • Full name: Stephen Roger Bruce

  • Date of birth: 31 December 1960 (age 60

    )

  • Place of birth: Corbridge, England

  • Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Centre-back

Stephen Roger Bruce, born 31 December 1960, is an English professional football manager and former player who played as a center-back. He is the current manager of

Newcastle United

.

Bruce has played for Manchester United for 9 years and won many titles and is considered to be one of the best Manchester United defenders of all time. He formed one of the best defensive duos in the history of the sport alongside Gary Pallister that led to United's numerous championships.

Bruce is regarded as one of the best deals the club has ever made by signing him for only 825,000 Euros, for he continued to play in 414 matches for the Red Devils and scored 51 goals, including the two decisive goals he scored against Sheffield Wednesday that brought the 1992/93 Premier League title for United.

Bruce was renowned for his ability in controlling the ball under pressure, especially with his chest, passing the ball deliberately and goal scoring, which mainly included powerful headers and penalty kicks. Moreover, he was very dedicated player that was willing to continue playing even when he was injured.

The prominent defender has helped the club win 3 Premier League titles, 3 English FA Cups, 1 English League Cups, 1 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, 3 English Super Cups and 1 UEFA Super Cup.

Moreover, he won 1 English League cup in 19855 with Norwich City before coming to Old Trafford. Bruce is deservedly one of the best Manchester United defenders of all time due to his achievements and performances, as well has his commitment and dedication to the club.

Nemanja Vidic

  • Full name: Nemanja Vidić

  • Date of birth: 21 October 1981 (age 40

    )

  • Place of birth: Titovo Užice, SFR Yugoslavia

  • Height: 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Centre-back

Nemanja Vidić, born 21 October 1981, is a Serbian retired professional footballer. He most notably played for Manchester United from 2006 to 2014, and was part of the

Serbia national team

from 2002 to 2011.

The Serbian defender has played for Manchester United from 2006 to 2014, and played a key role in winning many prestigious trophies during these years and is unquestionably one of the best Manchester United defenders ever.

Vidic also formed a great partnership with Rio Ferdinand widely regarded as one of the most formidable defense duos in during their years. Vidic has played in 300 matches for the Red Devils and scored 21 goals, mostly with headers due to his height.

He has won 5 Premier League titles, 1 UEFA Champions League in 2008, 3 English League Cups, 1 FIFA Clubs World Cup and 7 English Super Cups. Vidic has also won 3 major titles with the Serbian club Red Star Belgrade before joining Man United. Furthermore, he has been named the Serbian football player of the year twice in 2005 and 2008.

In addition, he has made 36 appearances for his homeland national team including taking part in 2 World Cups. He was a tough center back with excellent tenacity, concentration, awareness and leadership abilities.

Furthermore, he was very reliable in the air, both in defending and scoring. He was renowned for his courage on the pitch that was praised by many experts.

He is indubitably one of the best Manchester United defenders of all time that remain in the minds of their fans all around the world, since he was a very brave, dedicated and loyal defender who also captained them for 4 years before he left United to join Inter in 2014, and eventually hang his boots as an end to a luminous career un 2016.

Gary Neville

  • Full name: Gary Alexander Neville

  • Date of birth: 18 February 1975 (age 46

    )

  • Place of birth: Bury, England

  • Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Right back

Gary Alexander Neville, born 18 February 1975, is an English football coach and former player who is a co-owner of

Salford City

. After retiring from football in 2011, Neville went into punditry and was a commentator for Sky Sports, until he took over the head coach position at Valencia in 2015.

Neville, as a one-club player, spent his entire career with Manchester United. He made his debut in 1992, and went on to play in 602 matches for the Red Devils.

Neville became the captain of the club in 2005 and then was named the fifth Manchester United captain to have lifted the Premier League trophy in 2007. The dedicated hard-working right back, has won 12 Premier League titles, 2 Champions Leagues, 4 English FA Cups, 3 English League Cups, 1 Intercontinental cup, 1 FIFA Clubs World Cup and 7 English Super Cups. Furthermore, he was described as "the best English Right back of his generation" by Alex Ferguson.

He has also made appearances for England national team including participating in 3 Euros and 2 World Cups. He was a hard-tackler and consistent player that is regarded as one of the

all-time best defenders at Manchester United

, and one of the best ever English defenders.

Neville was tactically intelligence and alongside his great stamina, could anticipate opponents' moves and read the game very well. Neville was a devoted and faithful player that is the 5 highest-capped player in the history of the club and will never be forgotten by the fans as one of the best ever Manchester United defenders.

Johnny Carey

  • Full name: John Joseph Carey

  • Place of birth: Dublin, Ireland

  • Place of death: Macclesfield, England

  • Position(s): Right back

Date of birth:

23

February 1919

Date of death:

22

August 1995 (aged 76

)

John Joseph Carey (23 February 1919 – 22 August 1995), known as Johnny Carey or Jackie Carey, was an Irish professional footballer and manager.

As a player, Carey spent most of his career at Manchester United, where he was team captain from 1946 until he retired as a player in 1953.

Carey is another Irish legendary player who has spent the majority of his career at Old Trafford. He joined Manchester United in 1936 for a surprising record fee of 250 Euros.

With his help, Manchester United could promote to "The First Division" (English league). During the Second World War years, a league called regional league was being held and Carey played 112 goals during the time, as well as scoring the amazing number of 47 goals as a defender.

Moreover, Carey played as a guest for some other clubs (for only very few matches) such as

Manchester City

,

Everton

and

Liverpool

.

A fun fact would be that he has served for the British Army in Italy and Middle East. In return to Manchester, he was declared the captain by Matt Busby, and went on to lift the 1948 English FA Cup.

With him as the captain, the Reds placed 2nd in the First Division 4 times before winning the trophy in 1952, as well as a Charity shield cup in the very same year.

Moreover, Carey became the first Irish player to have won a trophy with Manchester United, and is known, especially by old fans, as one of the

best defenders in Manchester United history

.

Bill Foulkes

  • Full name: William Anthony Foulkes

  • Date of birth: 5 January 1932

  • Place of birth: St. Helens, Lancashire, England

  • Date of death: 25 November 2013 (aged 81

    )

  • Place of death: Manchester, England

  • Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Centre-half

William Anthony Foulkes (5 January 1932 – 25 November 2013) was an English footballer who played for Manchester United in the Busby Babes teams of the 1950s, and also in the 1960s. His favoured position was center-half.

Foulkes, who is known to be one of the all-time best defenders at Manchester united, is indeed a notable name in the history of the Reds. He has played in 688 matches for the club, ranking 4

th

in the most capped players ever.

Foulkes spent his entire professional career, 18 seasons, at Old Trafford, where he was an undeniable starter under Sir Matt Busby's management. He helped the Red Devils win 4 First Divisions (English League trophies), 4 English Super Cups, 1 European champion clubs' cup as well as 1 English FA Cup. Foulkes was one of the survivors in the Munich air disaster in 1958, where 17 people died including 8 Manchester United players and some officials.

The captain of the team, Byrne, also died in the crash and Foulkes took over his place after that. The club could not achieve any trophies in 4 seasons after the disaster, but they won the 1963 FA Cup even though they were placed 19th in the League.

They finally won the league in 1965, when Bill Foulks and Charlton were the only Munich survivors still playing for the Reds.

Eventually, they stood on top of Europe in 1968 by winning the Europeans Cup, where Foulkes with his knack for scoring helped them reach the final match by scoring against Real Madrid in 1968 in Bernabeu. It was only 2 more years until one of the best Manchester united defenders of all time's retirement.

Martin Buchan

  • Full name: Martin McLean Buchan

  • Place of birth: Aberdeen, Scotland

  • Position(s): Centre-back

Date of birth:

6

March 1949 (age 72

)

Martin McLean Buchan, born 6 March 1949 in Aberdeen, is a Scottish former international footballer. He played as a center back for

Aberdeen

, Manchester United and

Oldham Athletic

.

Martin Buchan was the most significant player in the Manchester United's squad for over a decade. He captained the Reds for 6 years during the 70s and helped them win the 1075 second division championship in 1975 and getting the promotion to the First Division in their first attempt, as well we 1 FA Cup and 1 English Super cup in 1977.

Buchan has made 456 appearances for the club during 11 years, and has scored 4 goals. The Scottish man showed great positioning abilities which as well as his pace have made him one of the

best Manchester United defenders of all time

, and the most elegant defender of his generation.

Moreover, Buchan has played in 34 international matches for Scottish national team, including 2 World Cups in 1974 and 1978.

Roger Byrne

  • Full name: Roger William Byrne

  • Date of birth: 8 September 1929

  • Place of birth: Gorton, Manchester, Lancashire, England

  • Date of death: 6 February 1958 (aged 28

    )

  • Place of death: Munich, West Germany

  • Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Full-back

Roger William Byrne (8 September 1929 – 6 February 1958) was an English footballer and captain of Manchester United. He died at the age of 28 in the Munich air disaster.

Byrne was one of the eight Manchester United players who lost their lives in the disaster on 6 February 1958. He made 33 appearances for the England national team.

Roger Byrne will be the eternal captain of Manchester United, since he was one of the 8 players whose lives were claimed in the Munich air disaster in 1958.

He was 28 at the time, and had been named the captain in the start of 1955-56 season. Even though he was no superstar, he stood out for his expertise in positioning and intelligence in football and while the defenders at his time were mainly expected to merely act in the defense phase, he was the one who made contributions to attackers very often.

Moreover, the most remarkable feature of his, were his leadership capabilities and the impact he had on other players. Byrne has made 245 appearances for the Red Devils before he passed away and had won 3 Premier league titles and 3 English Super cups (FA Charity shields).

Byrne's name will everlastingly be engraved in the minds and historic books of the United fans, as one of the all-time best Manchester United defenders and a symbolic character in the history of the sport.

Rio Ferdinand

  • Full name: Rio Gavin Ferdinand

  • Date of birth: 7 November 1978 (age 43

    )

  • Place of birth: Camberwell, England

  • Height: 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Centre-back

Rio Gavin Ferdinand, born 7 November 1978, is an English former professional footballer who played as a center-back, and is now a television pundit for BT Sport. He played 81 times for the England national team between 1997 and 2011, and was a member of three FIFA World Cup squads.

Rio Ferdinand is one of the most decorated English Players of all time, one of the

best ever Manchester united defenders

and one of the best center backs of his era.

Ferdinand first came to Old Trafford in 2002, and went on to play in 455 matches for the Reds and claimed numerous major trophies under Sir Alex Ferguson's management. The strong mobile defender has won 6 Premier League titles, 3 English League Cups, 1 Champions League, 1 FIFA Clubs world cup, 4 English Super Cups and 1 UEFA Super cup until 2014, when he joined

Quenns Park Rangers

and played for them for 1 season before he hung his boots in 2015.

Furthermore, he has made 81 international appearances for English national team, taking part in 3 World Cups. He was a very physically powerful player with excellent balance and control on the ball.

His tenacity, pace as well as astounding ability in winning aerial battles have been admired significantly, and have made him be regarded as one of the

all-time best Manchester united defenders

.

Although after Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United in 2013 as a coach, they have not been able to perform as well as they used to, they seem promising this season with

Harry Maguire

, one of the best center backs in the world, being the captain, and perhaps he will find his way in to this list in the following years provided that the team achieve trophies as they did before.

 

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