The choice of the best right-backs of all time is not an easy task because of the numerous footballers who played in that position. Nonetheless, this list consists of right-backs in the world that edged others with their longevity, skills, leadership, versatility, achievements, etc.
This list has FIFA World Cup winners, inspirational captains, and right-backs in the world with skills more suited for creative midfielders. From the 10th to the 1st position, we will highlight the 10 best Right-Backs Ever.
List of 10 Best Right-Backs Ever in Football
We start with a player that epitomizes longevity and versatility. Bergomi played for Italian giant Inter Milan throughout his career spanning 20 years. He played everywhere across the backline and was known for his ruthlessness. Also, he was known for his defensive abilities which he consolidates with a penchant for contributing to his teams attack.
Furthermore, his ability to shoot and cross ensured that he scored goals and assisted his teammates. A mainstay in the Italian National team, Bergomi won the 1980 Fifa World Cup trophy. He is in the Italian and Inter Milan’s Hall of Fame.
He was at some point; Inter Milan’s all-time appearance record holder and one of the best right backs of all time.
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Berti Vogts made our list of 10 best right-backs ever for his defensive abilities and efforts towards the success of his team. The former German international right-back was known for his ability to nullify opposition attacks.
For instance, in the final of the 1974 Fifa World Cup, he famously marked and nullified the threat of Dutch attacker, Johan Cruyff. He made one of the greatest players ever looked ordinary, thereby allowing his team to lift the World cup. Like Bergomi, Vogts spent his entire career at one club; Borussia Monchengladbach.
Importantly, he played a pivotal role in the golden era of the club when they won the league 5 times and the UEFA Cup twice. Vogts won the German footballer of the year twice and earned a place in the Bundesliga team of the season nine times!
Without any doubt, Vogts was one of the Best Right backs in the world at his peak.
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Zambrotta is an Italian who played as a full-back during his career and was comfortable with the ball at both feet. This allowed coaches to deploy him as a right-back or left-back. Zambrotta played for Juventus, Barcelona, and Ac Milan during his career.
On the international stage, he was a mainstay in the Italian national team where he won 98 caps. He was part of the team that reached the final of the European Championship in the year 2000. In euro 2004, he was named in the team of the tournament for his performance despite going out in the group stages.
Although injured, Zambrotta was named in the Italian team to the 2006 Fifa World Cup. He repaid the faith shown in him with some exciting performances. He was rightly named to the Fifa All-Star Team. The same year, he was named in the Fifpro World XI and the UEFA Team of the Year. Also, his exemplary career earned him national awards.
Most football fans would agree that Zambrotta is one of the best right backs of all time.
At the heart of Uruguay’s dominance of football in the early ’90s was Jose Nasazzi. Although Uruguay now boasts of players like Suarez, Cavani, and Forlan, Jose is regarded by many as Uruguay’s best right backs of all time & best player in history.
Between the year 1923 to 1935, he helped Uruguay win 7 gold medals in various competitions. This includes four gold medals at the Copa America (1923, 1924, 1926, 1935) and two at the Olympics (1924, 1928). Although a right back, he was voted as the best player in two of the four Copa Americas won by his team (1923, 1935).
Arguably, his best performance was at the first official FIFA World Cup held I’m his country. He helped his country claim the Gold medal at the tournament, where he was arguably the best player. Thus, he became the first Captain to lift the FIFA World Cup trophy.
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Gary Neville is one of the best right-backs ever and in the history of the English Premier League. Neville represented Manchester United all through his 19 years of professional football career at the club level. Like every other defender in a team of stars, he rarely had the limelight that he deserved.
Neville was part of a Manchester United team that dominated the English league for several years. He won 8 league titles and 2 Champions League. For the major part of his career at Man. United, he was the team’s first-choice right-back where he formed a great partnership with David Beckham.
Neville was not the quickest, strongest or tallest of right-backs but he had the work rate, consistency, and tactical ability of an elite footballer. As Six Alex Ferguson puts it: “Gary was the best right-back of his generation.” However, his managerial career was not so successful. Neville is one of the Top Footballers who don’t have a great coaching career success.
Philipp Lahm is the most versatile player on this list and of course, one of the best right backs of all time. Lahm’s football intelligence allowed him to take up different positions under various managers. In effusive praise of the player when he announced his retirement from football, Guardiola said:
“He can play in 10 positions….because he understands the game perfectly.”
Lahm had a hugely successful career at both club and national team level. He won 8 Bundesliga titles, 6 DFB-Pokal, 1 UEFA Champions league amongst other titles with Bayern Munich. In 2012/13, he led the team to a treble (League, Champions League, and League cup titles).
Importantly, Lahm was ever-present with the German national team throughout his career. He made the UEFA Team of the Year in 2006, 2008, 2012, 2013, and 2014. He earned a place in the Fifa World Cup Dream Team in 2006 and 2010.
Also, he made the European Championship Team of the Tournament 2008 and 2012. Lahm features in the right-back position of UEFA Euro All-time XI and UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year.
When talking about the Best Right backs in the world, Lahm definitely come to the mind of every football fan.
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A prestigious club like Inter Milan did not retired his jersey number for nothing. Zanetti is the epitome of both defensive and attacking efficiency.
Javier Zanetti was a ball-winner and a man-maker. He could pass the ball with both feet and play on either flank of the defense.
Ryan Giggs said of the player: “He impressed with his qualities, his speed, power, intelligence and expertise.”
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Zanetti represented Inter Milan for 19 years under 19 different managers! He was a regular under all the managers and made a club record 858 appearances. He won 16 trophies in that time including 5 league titles and 4 Coppa Italia. In 2009/10, he became the first player to captain an Italian club to a treble win.
Pele listed him in his 100 best ever players and he won the Golden Foot award in recognition of his legendary status.
Furthermore, Inter Milan and Italy named him in their Football Hall of Fame. After his retirement, he was named Inter Milan vice president. He is surely one of the 10 best right-backs ever in the world.
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He scored one of the best goals and captained the Brazilian National Team at the 1970 FIFA World Cup.
Carlos Alberto is easily one of the best right backs of all time for all he represents. He had the skill, control, dribbling and play-making ability of a midfielder/attacker.
At a time when defenders only concerned themselves with defensive duties, Alberto displayed rare abilities.
Also, his leadership ability was second to none. It is no wonder that he was nicknamed “O Capitao.” He captained the Brazilian national team to their 1970 World cup victory.
He is in the World Team of the 20th century and the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame. Unfortunately,
Carlos Alberto passed on in 2016 due to a heart attack. Until his death, he was a commentator on Brazilian TV.
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To many, Cafu is one of the best right backs of all time. A skillful, dynamic, and energetic full-back, Cafu made the right-back position attractive. He could pick a pass, dribble past opponents, and make overlapping attacking runs at will.
Cafu enjoyed a successful career at the club and national team level. He holds the record as the most capped Brazilian player of all time and the Brazilian with the most World Cup games.
Cafu represented his country in four Fifa World Cups and reached the final in three. He won two of the three finals, one of which was as a captain.
Like most Brazilian, Cafu began his career in his home country before he moved to Europe. His time with Sao Paulo was hugely successful as he won all titles available to the club.
Although his time at As Roma did not yield as many titles but his performance was top-notch. At Roma, he earned the nickname “Pendolino” which means “The Express Train.”
His transfer from Roma to Ac Milan was hugely successful. With the team, he won the league, the Uefa Champions League, and the Fifa Club World Cup amongst others.
Cafu is a one-time South American Player of the year and was included in the Uefa Team of the Year twice. He is in As Roma and Ac Milan’s Hall of fame.
Think about a player that possesses almost all the qualities of the players highlighted above. He is skillful, energetic, charismatic, versatile, and very technical. Dani Alves is good at crosses, free-kicks, shots, and passes. He is the best full-back in history and one of the best 3 defenders ever in world Football.
He is blessed with so many qualities and was successful everywhere he went. In the history of football, no player won more trophies than Dani Alves. After a brief stint with Brazilian club Bahia, Alves moved to Europe where he established himself as a football legend.
He won various titles with Sevilla and performed outstandingly. His performance caught the eye of Barcelona who signed him in 2008 under new manager Pep Guardiola. At Barcelona, Alves formed an amazing partnership on the right flank with Leo Messi. He used to hold the record as the player who assisted the Argentine the most until Suarez broke the record.
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He won a total of 23 trophies at Barcelona before he joined Juventus. After just one season at Juventus where he won the league and Coppa Italia, Alves moved to Paris Saint Germain where he won further titles.
Alves made the Uefa Team of the year five times and won the Most Valuable Player award in the Uefa Cup(2005) and Copa America (2019).
Furthermore, he made the Fifa Fifpro World XI eight times and the Seria A team of the season in his only season in Italy.
During his peak years, Alves was one of the Best Right backs in the world and today he is one of the best ever in football history.
As the full-back position continues to evolve, players with the qualities of Dani Alves and Cafu will dominate football. Nowadays, there is less emphasis on the defensive abilities of right-backs.
The few who can combine their ability to attack and defend effectively will surely be reckoned with. If this is consolidated with numerous titles, this list might just be updated to accommodate them.
Over to you: Trent Arnold Alexander is one of the Best Right backs in the world now but do you think he will one day be one of the Best Right-Backs Ever in football?