For any Premier League team, having a firm and reliable centre half is as important as having someone who can notch the goals up front. The central defenders form the base on which legendary teams can be built, the foundations upon which the more creative, artistic players can flourish, helping the team become the dominant favourites when it comes to betting with Betfair. For every great Premier League side of the past, there are great centre backs at their core.
Here, we’ve put together a short list of five of the best central defenders to have graced the Premier League.
A stalwart of the dominant Manchester United team of the mid-late 2000s, Nemanja Vidić was just about as good as it got as far as a centre back is concerned. He had a perfect balance of the traditional hard-hitting resolve you would expect from a central defender, but still had the ability to play the ball into the feet of Paul Scholes or Michael Carrick in front of him.
Vidić helped United win five Premier League titles under Sir Alex Ferguson, including three in succession from 2006 to 2009. He captained the club in his latter days in Manchester, proof of the impact he had made among coach and supporters alike. The Serb was a colossus at the back, and most United fans would love to have a central defender of his ilk in the side at present.
A member of Arsenal’s famous ‘Invincibles’ squad, Sol Campbell was a player unafraid to turn a few heads, as he moved to the Gunners from arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur in 2001. It was a decision that ultimately bore fruit, though, as Campbell picked up two Premier League and two FA Cup winners medals at Arsenal, including that famous unbeaten campaign in the 2003-04 season.
Campbell’s strength and aerial prowess made him a formidable presence at the back for Tottenham, Arsenal and Portsmouth, and he deserves recognition as one of the division’s best ever centre halves.
Another Arsenal legend, Tony Adams is perhaps an example of the quintessential English centre back. A hard-hitting, no-nonsense footballer, Adams was known for his tendency to get up close and personal with opposition players and indeed his teammates. His intimidating demeanour struck fear into the hearts of opposing strikers.
But aside from his fearsome presence, Adams was also a supremely gifted defender, firm in the tackle and dominant in the air. He is one of the best captains to have ever led a Premier League side, and Arsenal fans will hold a special place in their hearts for Adams forever.
Once the most expensive defender in world football after his transfer from Leeds United to Manchester United, Rio Ferdinand was the archetypal modern centre back. Combining strength and hard tackling with supreme pace and a keen ability to read the game, Ferdinand played a large part in Manchester United’s success in the last seven or eight years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign, when United were consistently the most fancied team in all the betting tips.
While Ferdinand was perhaps not quite as physically imposing as some of the other names on this list, his technical attributes more than made up for it, and it was no surprise that United forked out around £30 million to secure his services from Leeds. He would ultimately pick up six Premier League winners medal at the club, making him one of the league’s most successful defenders in terms of titles won.
Chelsea legend John Terry is a player synonymous with the Blues’ rise as a dominant force in English football, ultimately winning five Premier League titles with the club. He formed a rock-solid partnership at the back with Ricardo Carvalho at Stamford Bridge in the early days of José Mourinho’s reign. The former England captain was a key presence as Chelsea recorded the best defensive record in Premier League history in 2004-05 – conceding just 15 goals.
A lot of people may remember Terry most for his off-field controversies, but let’s not forget that he was a supremely talented defender, and an exemplary leader for so many years.