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When it comes to ranking the 10 best Liverpool centre backs of all time, there are many world-class players who will come to mind.
From the club’s early days right up to current times, Liverpool has been blessed with so many defensive superstars throughout the years.
It is no easy task separating one winner from another when it comes to deciding the greatest centre back of all time.
10 Best Liverpool Centre Backs Ever
Here is our classic list of the top 10 best Liverpool centre backs of all time!
10. Alex Raisbeck
Alex Raisbeck, a long-standing presence in Liverpool’s defence, made 341 appearances for the Reds across two centuries and helped them to three titles.
This included the First Division title in 1900/01 and 1905/06, as well as the Second Division win of 1904/05.
He is an often overlooked hero from Liverpool’s early days who deserves a lot more recognition than he gets.
9. Jamie Carragher
Highly regarded as a Liverpool Football Club icon, Jamie Carragher boasts more appearances for the team than any other player, save Ian Callaghan.
Formerly an auxiliary midfielder and eventually settling in as a full-back, Carragher proved himself to be a formidable force that could single-handedly turn the tide of matches – take his effort during the epic Istanbul cause célèbre just before Liverpool emerged victorious – against initial detractors.
8. Mark Lawrenson
Arguably one of the most underappreciated players in Liverpool history, Mark Lawrenson was a world-class center back whose peak years saw him become part of the greatest defensive unit in club history alongside Alan Hansen.
The consistent and reliable Scotsman was as graceful on the ball as he was tough and fast, key attributes that would make him a fortune today.
He put these talents to good use, helping his team win five league titles and, most notably, the European Cup back in 1984.
7. Ron Yeats
Ron Yeats was renowned for his towering presence in the heart of Liverpool’s defense in the 1960s.
He captained the Anfield club to their first two First Division titles under manager Bill Shankly, as well as leading them to their 1965 FA Cup victory.
Shankly himself described Yeats’ arrival at Liverpool as a “turning point”, and was famously quoted saying “Take a walk around my centre-half, gentlemen. He’s a colossus.”
6. Sami Hyypia
Sami Hyypia is remembered as one of Liverpool’s best ever bargains, having been acquired from Dutch club Willem II in 1999.
Despite a lack of pace, the giant Finn had elegance, aerial ability and an outstanding reading of the game which made him a cornerstone of the Reds’ defence.
During his decade at Anfield he formed impressive partnerships with Stephane Henchoz and Jamie Carragher, most notably during their treble-winning 2000/01 campaign in which he made 58 appearances and the legendary Champions League run four years later.
5. Tommy Smith
The legendary footballer, Tommy Smith, was known as one of the toughest players of his generation.
But it would be wrong to overlook his incredible footballing ability and versatility.
During his 16-year career at Liverpool Football Club, he and the team went on to win four league titles, two FA Cups and UEFA Cups each, along with one European Cup trophy.
His goal in the 1977 European Cup final against Borussia Mönchengladbach is still considered one of the most popular goals ever scored in a Liverpool match.
4. Phil Thompson
Legendary Liverpool defender Phil Thompson was a true Scouser, displaying immense loyalty and dedication to the club throughout his career.
Claiming 477 appearances and 147 as captain, Thompson proudly led the Reds to their 1981 European Cup victory.
The 68-year-old deserves more recognition, having earned 42 caps for England in addition to his long stint at Liverpool.
3. Emlyn Hughes
Emlyn Hughes was an exceptionally talented footballer, renowned for his strength in defence. He was an all-rounder, able to play in various positions on the pitch.
His ability shone brightest when he played centre back and he captained Liverpool more than 335 times – only Steven Gerrard and Ron Yeats have surpassed that record.
In both 1977 & 1978 seasons, ‘Crazy Horse’ as he was fondly nicknamed by supporters, led Liverpool to victory in the European Cup.
Unfortunately in 2004, Emlyn Hughes passed away at only 57 years of age, a great loss to both football and Liverpool’s extended fandom.
2. Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk is truly a one-of-a-kind player. He arrived at Liverpool in 2018 and almost immediately changed the team’s fortunes for the better.
His remarkable talents have made him one of the most complete center-backs of the last 30 years, boasting incredible speed and power, exceptional aerial ability, impressive leadership skills, the ability to play with the ball, and an eye for reading the game – no other player under Klopp has been more influential.
With another 3 or 4 years of top performance under his belt, should that come to pass, Van Dijk could become Liverpool’s greatest ever central defender.
1. Alan Hansen
Alan Hansen has to be remembered as number one in the list of best Liverpool centre backs of all time.
Over 13 years of loyal service spanning two different decades, the Scottish defender accumulated an array of silverware including eight league titles and three European Cups.
Such was the dominance Hansen enjoyed in that position that his style of play on and off the ball distinguished him from his contemporaries – he could perform defensive duties but also had the flair and class to back it up.
The saying “jack of all trades” certainly applies here; not only was Alan Hansen a gifted footballer, but he was also a talented athlete having represented Scotland in volleyball, squash and golf!
This article was updated 3 months ago