Liverpool FC top 10 centre-backs – Hansen, Hyypia, Hughes and more! – Liverpool FC

There have been a host of special centre-backs to represent Liverpool throughout their history, but who rules at the top of the pile?

The club has been home to one defensive colossus after another, a luxurious position that has greeted each generation.

From the club’s beginnings to the present day, there is one standout centre-back, but how do you separate one world-class option from another?

Well, we’re reliving the club’s great past and so we’re ranking Liverpool’s top 10 centre-backs of all time.

10.Alex Raisbeck

Arguably Joel Matip could have worked his way into the top 10, but recency bias may be all too prevalent in the modern game.

Instead, Alex Raisbeck gets the nod, having racked up 341 appearances for the Reds that spanned two different centuries.

An influential presence at the heart of Liverpool’s defence, the Scotsman won the First Division title in 1900/01 and 1905/06, not to mention a Second Division crown in 1904/05.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the greats of the past from the Reds’ early years: Raisbeck was one of them.

9. Mark Lawrenson

Mark Lawrence, Liverpool

As time has passed, Mark Lawrenson has become increasingly underrated, possibly not helped by his ‘Lawro’ persona as an expert.

In fact, he was a world-class centre-back during his heyday, forging arguably the best defensive partnership in Liverpool history alongside Alan Hansen.

Quick, tough, but also cultured on the ball, Lawrenson was a mainstay of the team for most of the 1980s, achieving league title glory five times and winning the European Cup in 1984.

It would be worth a fortune in the modern game.

8.Phil Thompson

1981 European Cup Final, Paris - Phil Thompson with the trophy (Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo)

Rarely has there been a Scouser more proud to play for Liverpool than Phil Thompson.

The former centre-back may not have been the most naturally talented player in Reds history, but he was a rock for a long time, racking up 477 appearances in total.

Thompson captained Liverpool to their 1981 European Cup triumph and made 147 of his appearances for the club, who are second only to 10 players.

The now 68-year-old may be lost in history at times, with other names standing out more, but he is a Reds legend in his own right, having also won 42 caps for England.

7. Jaime Carragher

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard (l) and Jamie Carragher celebrate with the trophy

Only Ian Callaghan (857) has made more appearances for Liverpool than Jamie Carragher (737), which says all you need to know about his career.

Starting out as an assistant midfielder and then a full-back, Carragher overcame some early criticism: who else remembers the two own goals against Man United? – become an almost world-class artist for several years.

His efforts in Istanbul will forever go down in legend, with cramp dominating but the defender struggling, and he was the perfect foil for the silkier Sami Hyypia.

Now that he is a high-profile pundit, it is important that Carragher’s brilliance and longevity are not lost in the past like Lawrenson’s.

6. Sami Hyypia

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SATURDAY FEBRUARY 5, 2005: Liverpool's Sami Hyypia celebrates scoring the second goal during the Premiership match against Fulham at Anfield.  (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When it comes to Liverpool’s best bargain shopping, the Hyypia name always jumps out at you.

The Finnish giant was acquired from the little-known Willem II in 1999 for just £2.5m; a decade later, he was rightly considered one of the Reds’ greatest centre-backs of all time.

What Hyypia lacked in pace he made up for in elegance, aerial ability and outstanding reading of the game, forming great partnerships with both Stephane Henchoz and Carragher.

His influence during the treble-winning 2000/01 campaign was immense (he made 58 appearances in total) and he was equally monstrous in the legendary Champions League run four years later.

5. Emlyn Hughes

Liverpool FC captain Emlyn Hughes leads his team at Anfield.

Nobody seemed happier to score a goal than Emlyn Hughes, although he will always be better remembered for his defensive brilliance.

An excellent all-around footballer, he was able to thrive as a full-back and in midfield, but he was arguably the best in midfield.

Only Steven Gerrard (472) and Ron Yeats (416) have captained Liverpool more times than Hughes (335), who lifted the European Cup in consecutive seasons in 1977 and 1978.

There will always be a special place in fans’ hearts for ‘Crazy Horse’, who sadly passed away at the tender age of 57 in 2004.

4. Tommy Smith

LR: Brian Hall, Larry LLoyd, Tommy Smith, Alec Lindsay and Ray Clemence all Liverpool, 1973 (Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport)

Tommy Smith only had to look at an opposition player to scare him off!

However, despite his reputation as one of the toughest players of his generation, it is crucial that his footballing ability and versatility are not downplayed.

Smith was an incredible server for Liverpool over a period of 15 years, thriving under Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley, winning four league titles, two FA Cups and UEFA Cups each, and a European Cup.

His headed goal in the 1977 European Cup final against Borussia Monchengladbach remains arguably one of the Reds’ most popular goals, allowing an unsung hero his late-career moment of glory.

Smith (638) ranks eighth among the players with the most appearances in Liverpool history and is undoubtedly one of the best captains in the history of the club.

3. Ron Yeats

Liverpool captain Ron Yeats with the league championship trophy, 1964 (Don Morley/EMPICS Sport)

While much of the 1960s at Anfield was dominated by the goalscoring magic of Roger Hunt and Ian St John, Yeats was just as important.

The centre-back was a towering figure during Shankly’s best years at Liverpool, leading them to the First Division title in both 1963/64 and 1965/66.

Not only that, but Yeats was also captain when the Reds finally clinched the FA Cup for the first time in 1965, in what was a proud achievement.

Shankly described the defender’s arrival as a “turning point” in his tenure, which is high praise.

“Take a walk through my middle half, gentlemen. He is a colossus.”

2. Virgil van Dijk

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 6, 2022: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool looks dejected as Fulham scores their second goal from a penalty during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage.  (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

What can be said about Virgil van Dijk that hasn’t already been said?

Speaking of Yeats-esque turning points, the Dutchman’s arrival in January 2018 was just as important, with Liverpool becoming a different animal with him in the team.

Van Dijk could be the most complete centre-back of the last 30 years, combining pace, power, aerial control, leadership, ability to play with the ball and read the game; no player has been more influential under Klopp.

If he can perform at a high level for another three or four years, winning more trophies along the way, he should eventually be considered Liverpool’s best central defender.

Van Dijk has never lost a home Premier League game at Anfield for Liverpool, his last league loss there was to Southampton in 2017, which is ridiculous!

1. Alan Hansen

Liverpool captain Alan Hansen accepts applause from the crowd and his team-mates as he steps out to lift the League Championship trophy (Image by: Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport)

Van Dijk is bringing him closer now, but Hansen has yet to be seen as the best centre-back in Liverpool history.

The Scotsman’s trophy tally over 13 years on Merseyside was impressive, with eight league titles and three European Cups between them, he oozed elegance and class.

However, Hansen was not just a classy player who did not intrude, and he stood out from the rest for his excellence both on and off the ball, doing the dirty work when needed.

The Scotsman was such a talented sportsman that he represented his country in golf, volleyball and squash, but luckily, he opted for football as a career.

Hansen would be a notable player in the modern game – he and Van Dijk as a pair would be delicious.

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