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7 Best Liverpool Defenders of All Time

As a club, Liverpool FC has been home to some of the finest players to have ever graced English Soccer and there is no exception in the defensive portion of the pitch.

The Merseyside-based team has a history of producing and nurturing defensive talent until it becomes the best in England. 

In this short piece, we will be taking a look at just 7 of the Best Liverpool Defenders of All Time. Do you think you know who will take the top spot today? 

7. Virgil Van Dijk

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  • Country: Netherlands

We start our list with the player that many of you reading this will be most familiar with, Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk has quickly established himself as one of Liverpool’s best and has already been a vital component of many trophy-winning campaigns. 

Van Dijk joined the reds in 2018 after several successful spells across Europe, he began his career with Dutch team Groningen before moving to Celtic, Southampton, and finally settling in Merseyside with Liverpool. So far the Dutchman has made 133 appearances for the club and has scored an impressive 14 goals. 

For a central defender, Van Dijk is blessed with immense pace and control on the ball, which when combined with his size and strength makes him almost unplayable at times.

There is no guarantee that Van Dijk will remain with Liverpool as long as some of the other players on this list, however, his place in the club’s folklore is already assured. 

6. Phil Thompson

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  • Country: England

In 6th place, we have to go back in time to the 1970s and the era of the great Bill Shankly. Phil Thompson was an ever-present at Anfield for 13 years and was vital in bringing 7 First Division titles to Merseyside. 

Thompson was a boyhood Liverpool fan and is known for standing on the Kop for many years before joining the club at the age of 17, at the time this was a risky signing and one that could have easily backfired.

This was not the case though and Thompson fast became a stalwart of the Liverpool defense, making nearly 350 appearances for the team over his lengthy career. Thompson also scored 7 times over the years. 

Towards the end of his career, Thompson briefly joined Sheffield United before retiring in 1986. The Lancashire-born defender also managed Liverpool for 6 months as a caretaker in 2001 due to current boss Gérrard Houllier falling ill. 

5. Tommy Smith 

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  • Country: England

As we reach the top 5, the 5th place man on our list is one of the most ‘ no-nonsense’ defenders that English Soccer has ever seen.

The great Tommy Smith played for Liverpool for 16 years between 1962 and 1978, he was often referred to as the ‘Anfield Iron’ due to his tenacious style of defending. 

Smith was also a vital cog in the team that won the European Cup in 1977, scoring a headed winner against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Over the years, Smith became loved by the Liverpool fans and his manager alike, Bill Shankly once said that “Tommy Smith wasn’t born, he was quarried”. A fitting tribute to a bygone age of Soccer and a kind of player rarely seen in the present day. 

During his time with Liverpool, Smith made a total of 467 appearances for the club and registered 36 goals. 

4. Sami Hyypiä

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  • Country: Finland

Up until this point, we have been focussing on the central part of the defensive line and in 4th place is another center-back that is widely regarded as a ‘cult hero’ across English Soccer.

Sami Hyypiä is often considered one of the best value purchases that Liverpool has ever made, with the Finnish man moving from Willem II for just £2.6 Million in 1999. 

When he joined the club, Hyypiä was an unknown quantity and fans were not sure what to make of the buy. Soon enough though, the Fin established himself in the first team and became a staple of the Liverpool defense for a decade to come. 

He was calm on the ball and could pick a pass whenever it was required, making him a valuable asset in an era where this kind of defender was harder to come by. During his spell with the reds, Hypiä took to the field 318 times and scored 22 goals. 

3. Emlyn Hughes

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  • Country: England

The first man on the podium today is another Lancashire-born central defender, Emlyn Hughes. The Englishman was a mainstay at Anfield between 1967 and 1979, with him making 474 appearances for the reds during a glittering playing career. 

Hughes joined Liverpool at the age of 19 after impressing his local team Blackpool, he would go on to become known as the ‘Crazy Horse’ due to his level of commitment to preventing the opposition from getting near to his goal.

Alongside Tommy Smith, Hughes formed part of a legendary partnership that helped lead the club to two European Cups and three First Division titles as captain. 

In 2004, Hughes sadly died and was honored with a minute’s silence at Anfield that proved to be an incredibly emotional affair. They really don’t make them like Emlyn Hughes and Tommy Smith anymore. 

2. Alan Hansen

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  • Country: Scotland

In the 2nd spot on our list, we have a man that many of you may recognize from the television screen more than the Soccer field given that he co-hosted Match of the Day for many years.

Alan Hansen is one of the greatest Scottish players in history and is right up there with the finest defenders in the history of the game. 

Hansen joined Liverpool in 1977, after spending four seasons with Scottish team Partick Thistle. The Scotsman was known for his ability on the ball and began life at Anfield as a left-back, soon enough he was transferred to the center of the defense though. 

Hansen would become yet another stalwart of the reds defense and would go on to make over 400 appearances for the club, scoring 8 times. 

The Scot would of course become a pundit after retiring and was known for his rather grumpy persona that players often found themselves on the end of if their performances were deemed as poor by him. Hansen left this role in 2014. 

1. Jamie Carragher 

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  • Country: England

Here we are then! The best Liverpool defender of all time could only be one man, the great Jamie Carragher (who is actually an Everton fan). Carragher was a product of the reds’ youth academy and was promoted to the first team in 1996, he would never leave the club before retiring in 2013. 

A true ‘one club man’ Carragher represents a loyal foot soldier that stuck with his team through thick and thin. Over his 17-year professional career with Liverpool, Carragher was a part of many trophy-winning sides including the famous 2005 UEFA Champions League winners. 

Towards the end of time at Anfield, the club began to decline, and success dried up massively. Alongside Steven Gerrard, Carragher is one of the greatest Liverpool players to have never lifted the Premier League/First Division title with the club. 

Despite this, he made over 500 appearances for Liverpool and is easily one of the best defenders that England has ever seen. Carragher is now known for being a pundit for UK Sports broadcaster Sky Sports.