Juventus are for sure one of the Serie A giants. They have been competing in the major Italian league since 1929 and are one of the most decorated Italian clubs. A top team not only has top strikers but also top defenders, and Juventus is no exception to this rule.
Who are the best defenders in Juventus history? Or in other words, best Juventus defenders ever. We have so far talked about Juventus top scorers of all time, but enough of strikers or goal scorers, what about all-time best Juventus defenders?
We mean those top Juventus defenders with best ratings or those who are considered as Juventus legendary defenders. Well, the list of best Juventus defenders of all time is composed of 11 instead of 10 footballers, and that’s because we didn’t like to skip even one from those all-time best Juventus defenders.
The list of best Juventus defenders of all time starts with Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Pessotto. But what about the rest of the list? Read on to know.
Number one on the list of best Juventus defenders of all time, Lilian Thuram is a 48-year-old retired French footballer who played as a defender for the top European clubs, Monaco, Parma, Juventus and Barcelona during his career.
Except for Barcelona, Thuram served the clubs mentioned above each for 5 years - he served Barcelona for two years actually - and with each of these clubs he won at least one trophy. With Juventus he actually won two consecutive Serie A titles and two Italian Super Cups.
It is said that Thruam’s defensive partnership with Fabio Cannavaro, Jonathan Zebina, and Gianluca Zambrotta was one of the most feared ones in Europe. And with Gianluigi Buffon at goal, they were actually a brick wall one could hardly penetrate. They were also one of the most expensive defensive lines in Europe.
Thruam was not only considered as one of the all-time best defenders at Juventus but also one of the best defenders in the world at his own time. He was famed for his aggressive tackling, tight marking and physical strength; what actually made him difficult to pass by. He was also good in the air and when playing as a full back, he also contributed to his team’s attacks on the flanks.
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The first defender on the list of best Juventus defenders of all time who has also played as a midfielder, Gianluca Pessotto served Juventus more than any other club during his career; actually for 11 years between 1995 and 2006. This is as he played only for a year or two for the other five clubs he served during his career, namely Torino, Verona, Bologna, Massese and Varese. The number of appearances that Pessotto has made for Juventus only at league level (243) are also three to seven times higher than those he made for these clubs.
And what about the club trophies Pessotto has won? Again Juventus comes first. In fact, Pessotto has won all his club trophies with Juventus with some of these trophies being four Serie A titles and four Italian Super Cups. Pessotto’s got a nickname which resembles his real name a lot: Passerotto which means “little sparrow” in Italian.
He actually earned this nickname during his footballing time for his quick runs and incredible pace. They say when he ran it was as if he was flying! And the interesting thing about him is that he had also a solid control of the ball even with such a pace.
One of the old-time top Juventus defenders, Antonello Cuccureddu served Juventus more than any other club during his career; actually for 12 years between 1969 and 1981. Cuccureddu also served four other clubs during his career, namely Novara, Fiorentina, Brescia, and Torres, but only for a year or two.
He also made 303 appearances for Juventus only at league level during his career which is near 10 times higher than the number of appearances he made for the clubs mentioned above, and during this time he scored 26 goals for the Black and Whites, while he didn’t score a single goal - indeed at league level - for the above-mentioned clubs.
And Cuccureddu won all his club trophies including six Serie A titles with Juventus, too. The interesting fact about him is that he scored 12 goals out of all the 26 goals he scored for Juventus only in one season; actually 1973-74 season.
Cuccureddu was famed for the strong shots he fired from outside the penalty area with his right foot; a goal threat indeed from a defender who also played as a midfielder occasionally. Although Cuccureddu played mostly as a defender, he also contributed to his team attacks from the back and on the wings, and with his formidable long shots, he was his team’s first choice for taking free kicks and penalty shots.
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Among the best Juventus defenders ever, Gianluca Zambrotta is a 43-year-old retired Italian defender who served not only Juventus but also two other top clubs, namely AC Milan and Barcelona, during his career, however, he served Juventus more than any other club in such time; actually for seven years between 1999 and 2006 during which the top Italian defender made 294 appearances for the Black and Whites which is at least three times higher than the appearances he made for the other clubs during his career.
Zambrotta also played as a wide midfielder and on both wings. Maybe he owes the number of goals he scored during his career to this fact. He was also part of the Italy squad who won 2006 World Cup, in fact, a key member of his team who was also named in the same competition all-star team.
Despite being a defender, Zambrotta had a knack for attacking. In fact, he was considered as one of the best attacking defenders by pundits of his own time. Just like Antonello Cuccureddu, Zambrotta was also famed for his powerful shots outside the box plus that he was also excellent at crossing.
Another old-time footballer on the list of best Juventus defenders of all time, Sergio Brio is a 63-year-old retired Italian footballer who played almost all his career for Juventus; actually for 16 years between 1974 and 1999 three years of which, indeed from 1975 to 1978, he was on loan to another Italian club named Pistoiese.
And before Juventus, Brio served Lecce for just one year. So if it was not for these 4 years Brio served the two Italian clubs mentioned above, we could say he had served Juventus for all his career.
However, although Brio did not serve Juventus for all his career, he won all his club trophies with the top Italian club. He actually won 12 club trophies with Juventus among which are four Serie A titles and three Coppa Italia trophies. During his footballing time, Brio made 378 appearances for Juventus across all competitions and even scored 24 goals for them despite being a defender.
He never made an appearance for the Italian national team but he was part of the Italy squad in Olypmic games in late 80s. Brio is one of the six footballers in the European football history along with the figures like Antonio Cabrini, Stefano Tacconi, and Danny Blind to have won all international club tournaments recognized by UEFA.
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Halfway through the list of best Juventus defenders of all time, we reach a top Italian defender who is not only considered as one of the best defenders in Juventus history but also one of the top defenders in Italy’s: Fabbio Cannavaro.
Cannavaro served Juventus only for three years and in two time periods: Once from 2004 to 2006 and another time in 2009-10 season, but despite this - we mean the short time he served Juventus - he proved one of the best defenders Juventus had ever seen. He was also named in the Juventus Greatest 11 of All Time team in 2017.
Cannavaro is the only footballer among the best ever Juventus defenders who managed to win the Ballon d'Or trophy during his footballing career - actually in 2006. He’s also one of the most decorated footballers on the list of best Juventus defenders of all time with some of the individual titles he has won being Serie A Defender of the Year in 2005 and 2006, FIFA World Player of the Year in 2006, and Serie A Footballer of the Year again in 2006. But despite all his achievements, the interesting fact about Cannavaro is that he has won no club trophies with Juventus.
It is the Italian club, Parma, whom Cannavaro served the most during his career - actually for seven years between 1995 and 2002, though he served also other top clubs like Napoli, Inter Milan and Real Madrid and w;ith the last one he also won two La Liga titles. It is also noteworthy to mention that Cannavaro is the second footballer after Gianluigi Buffon to have made the most number of appearances for the Italian national team.
And what about Cannavaro’s style of play and character? We should say that was a combination of all the positive aspects a defender should have. He not only possessed a positive character which led him to be calm and composed under pressure, but also was a self-assured defender who could also inspire confidence in his teammates and the players who played alongside him in the defense line. And concerning his individual skills we should say Cannavaro was not only an agile and consistent defender but also excelled at zonal and man-to-man marking and precise sliding tackles.
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Also one of the most decorated footballers on the list of best Juventus defenders of all time, Ciro Ferrara is a 53-year-old retired Italian footballer who played only for two clubs during his career: Napoli and Juventus.
And he almost served the two clubs for the same period of time and made almost the same number of appearances for both: For Napoli he made 322 appearances in 10 years, and for Juventus 358 appearances in 11 years. However, the number of club trophies Ferrara won with Juventus are more than two times higher than those he won with Napoli.
With Juventus, Ferrara won 14 club trophies including 5 Serie A titles, while with Napoli, he only won 5 trophies. He also played for the Italian national team for 3 years between 1987 and 1990 and during this time made 49 appearances for them, but being a center back, he never scored a goal for them.
However, although a center back, Ferrara could play as a full back on both wings - mostly the right wing - and that was actually what made him adoptable to different defense line formations. Ferrara was one of the best center backs of his own time. The top Welsh footballer, Ryan Giggs, once said that Ferrara was one of the toughest defenders he had played against.
Another top footballer on the list of best Juventus defenders of all time, Antonio Cabrini is a 63-year-old retired Italian footballer who played a major part of his career for Juventus; actually for 13 years between 1976 and 1989. And the rest of his career? He actually played for 3 clubs namely, Bologna, Atalanta, and Cremonese, for 5 years altogether. He also served the Italian national team for 9 years between 1978 and 1987 during which he made 73 appearances and scored 9 goals for them.
During his footballing time, Cabrini made 297 appearances for Juventus only at league level and scored 33 goals for them which translates to one goal in every 9 appearances; not a bad record for a defender which means he had kind of an attacking talent too.
In fact, he was one of those defenders known for being prolific in front of goal despite their defensive role, and not only this; he was also good at shooting from long distance and making attacking runs on the flanks; what actually made him dangerous in his team’s attacking setups.
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Also among the most decorated footballers on the list of best Juventus defenders of all time, Giorgio Chiellini is not only one of the best defenders in Juventus history but also one of the best modern-day defenders Italy has ever seen.
He’s also the only footballer on the list to have served all under-aged Italy national teams - from U15 to U21 - and the only footballer on the list who is not yet retired. He’s been serving Juventus since 2005 which is by now actually three times higher than the total 5 years he has served Livorno, AS Roma, and Fiorentina altogether.
So, Chielini is much better described as a Juventus player, and that just said, he has also won all his club trophies including nine consecutive Serie A titles with the top Italian club. The top Italian defender has also a number of individual honors to his name including 3 consecutive Serie A Defender of the Year awards, one Juventus Player of the Year award in 2008-09 season, and being named in the Juventus Greatest 11 of All Time team in 2017.
Chielni is a tall defender - he’s 1.87 m - and that’s what makes him an aerial threat from set pieces considering that he’s a strong, athletic and aerially dominant player, too. He also possesses a good vision which enables him to launch attacks from the back right after winning the ball possession.
The Juventus manager in 2018, Massimiliano Allegri, called Chielini the best defender in the world, and Chielini’s former manager, Walter Mazzarri, once said about the top Italian defender that he was a force of nature and a player from another planet who could mark three other players at the same time.
Another old-time footballer on the list of best Juventus defenders ever, Claudio Gentile is a 67-year-old retired Italian defender who served Juventus more than any other club during his career; actually for 11 years between 1973 and 1984. This is as he played for the other four clubs he served during his career, namely Arona, Varese, Fiorentina, and Piacenza, for a year or two except for Fiorentina whom he served for 3 years between 1984 and 1987 right after he waved goodbye to Juventus.
And the number of appearances that Gentile made for Juventus only at league level (283) are at least three times higher than the four other clubs mentioned above. He also scored more goals for Juventus during his career - actually 9. And what about his international career?
Gentile actually served the Italian national team for 9 years from 1975 to 1984 and during this time made 71 appearances and scored 1 goal for them. He was a hard-tackling and tough defender and one of the best of his own time. He could play both as a center back and a full back on both wings and was known for his tight marking of the opponents. We should also mention that he won all his club trophies including six Serie A titles with Juventus.
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The last but not least on the list of best ever Juventus defenders, Gaetano Scirea is also the first and only passed footballer on the list. He died at a very young age of 36 due to a car accident which also involved an explosion of gas canisters carried by the car in which Scirea was travelling.
Despite being a product of the Italian club, Atalanta, Scirea served Juventus for the majority of his career. He actually served Juventus for 14 years between 1974 and 1988 while he only played for his mother club, Atalanta, for two seasons between 1972 and 1974.
So, although Scirea’s mother club is Atalanta, he’s much better known as a Juventus player. As mentioned above, he served Juventus for 14 years, and during this time he made 377 appearances and scored 24 goals for them only at league level. He also won all his club trophies including seven Serie A titles with Juventus. Scirea was part of the Italian national team who won 1982 World Cup; he was also inducted into Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2011 and was named in the Juventus Greatest 11 of All Time team in 2017.
And what about his playing style? Despite his counterparts who often had applied a tough, physical, and hard style of play, Scirea was known for his fair play and sportsmanship. He was a highly talented defender and a technically gifted defender who had played also as a midfielder; what actually helped him to take part also in his team’s attacks and even score goals. He was also known for his leadership qualities which actually had him captain both Juventus and the Italian national team sometime during his career.