The Best Full-Backs of All Time in Football History

Full Back is a position that requires one to excel both at defence as well as attack. The more modern full Back history be the complete player with inverted full backs also used as dummy midfielders by managers nowadays. And not many have been able to do it all for a consistent  enough basis at the highest level but there are few who have left their mark on football over the years. Time to have a look at these gentlemen who have given their full at the back.

1) Phillip Lahm

Phillip Lahm - The Best Full-Backs of All Time in Football History
Phillip Lahm (Credit -

Never got a red card in his career, over 500 games played, most intelligent player coached as per Pep Guardiola,  someone who could play RB, LB, CDM, CB and a World Cup winner on top of that. He was the original Camavinga before the Camavinga Chuck Norris-esque memes became a thing. He truly is a modern day great not only for Bayern or Germany but is going to be the Gold Standard for the next few generations of modern Full-Backs.

2) Djalma Santos

DJALMA SANTOS - The Best Full-Backs of All Time in Football History
Djalma Santos (Credit -

Rolling back the clock to a not so average defender who had won 2 world Cups with Brazil in 58 and 62, over 1000 professional appearances at a time when professional standards were a lot more relaxed than today. About a 100 Caps for that legendary Brazil team of 50s and 60s, 3 FIFA World Cup all Stars Team inclusion and the modern day Brazilian flair that would make him seem like a Time traveller.

3) Cafu

Cafu - The Best Full-Backs of All Time in Football History
Cafu (Credit - Transfermarkt)

3 World Cup Finals and 2 WC wins, a career spanning across 3 decades , and of course his spell at Milan have definitely made him a name that a lot of football fans know of. His pace, skill, Footballing intelligence along with his model professional attitude made him not only the ideal full back but also the ideal captain who was ever reliant. He could also slot in either as a CB or even as winger when called upon.

4) Gaetano Scirea

Gaetano Scirea - The Best Full-Backs of All Time in Football History
Gaetano Scirea (Credit -

If you can keep Baresi out of the Italian  squad for 4 years then surely you are something special, and that is what Gaetano Scirea was, a rolls royce defender who oozed of class and technique coupled with serious pace. This Juventus legend is also one of only nine players in the history of European football that won all three major UEFA football competitions.

5) Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra - The Best Full-Backs of All Time in Football History
Patrice Evra (Credit -

Sticking to the theme of former Juventus players, many of you might not know that Evra also turned out of Juventus with over 50 appearances. But that's not what has landed him on this list. His time at Old Trafford and over 80 appearances for the France national team. He is known for his contributions at both end of the pitch and despite his frame is surprisingly strong  and athletic which made him an asset wherever he played whether it's his breakout years at Monaco, his time at United or his reading of the game and his ability  to adapt during the latter years at Juve and Marseille. United fans have many fond memories of him and they might say he is the best full back in recent history but I digress, he is certainly up there though.

6) Garry Neville

Gary Neville - The Best Full-Backs of All Time in Football History
Garry Neville (Credit - Transfermarkt)

Unlike others on this list, Gary Neville is tour typical old fashioned workhorse full back with relatively limited attacking panache. But you don't survive for so long under Sir Alex Ferguson and at Old Trafford if you are average and not doing something incredibly right.  Over 400 appearances and the most appearances at RB for England, 85 to be exact later he is the perfect embodiment of "nothing flashy, gets the job done" and any team during any Era needs one of these type of players and they often go under the radar, but here he gets his roses(metaphorical.. though).

7) Gianluca Zambrotta

Gianluca Zambrotta - The Best Full-Backs of All Time in Football History
Gianluca Zambrotta (Credit - FC Barcelona)

Member of the 2006 Italy World Cup Winning squad, Zambrotta has had memorable stints mainly with Juventus with over 200 appearances to his name along with spells at Barcelona and AC Milan. His ability to seamlessly slot into 3 , 4 or 5 man defence formations made him an asset for managers especially during his time a Serie A where defence  was the primary focus. He used to stand out among his peers stood  for his overlapping runs, marking, crossing and long shots along with good technique.

8) Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini - The Best Full-Backs of All Time in Football History
Paolo Maldini (Credit -

It might be a surprise to some, but Paolo Maldini has played more games at LB (481) than at CB (377). Paolo Maldini is probably the only player today who if pulled out of retirement, won't look out of place in 2024 as a player, such was his skill, technique and IQ that he managed to be evergreen for an astonishing 25 years.

Cover Credits - Transfermarkt

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