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15 Best Premier League Left Backs of All Time

It may not be the most glamorous position or the one that most kids grow up wanting to play, but left-backs are some of the most important players on the soccer field.

The Premier League has been home to some of the greatest left backs in the world and today we’re going to be taking you through our picks for the 15 best Premier League left-backs of all time. 

15. Aaron Cresswell

  • Club: West Ham United
  • Premier League Titles: 0

We kick off today’s countdown with a player from the modern era, West Ham star Aaron Cresswell. 

The 32-year-old started his career at his local team Tranmere Rovers and is a product of the League 2 sides’ youth setup. Cresswell then spent 3 years plying his trade with Ipswich Town before making the move to West Ham in 2014. 

Since joining the Londoners, Cresswell has made over 200 appearances and contributed to much of the team’s recent improvement in fortunes. The 2021/22 season may well have been Cresswell’s best yet, with him notching two goals and registering 3 assists. 

14. Gabriel Heinze

  • Club: Manchester United
  • Premier League Titles: 1

Argentinian defender, Gabriel Heinze is next up on our list. Heinze starred for Manchester United between 2004 -2007 and for a period he was arguably the best left-back in the country. 

In the 2004-05 season, Heinze was voted as the Manchester United player of the season has settled into life at Old Trafford excellently. The following season’s proved to be tougher for him though, with injuries severely hampering the amount of time Heinze was on the field.

As a result of this, a replacement left-back was signed and Heinze eventually left for Real Madrid where he would remain until 2009. Had he not been injured so often then Heinze would have almost certainly been much higher on this list. 

13. John O’Shea

  • Clubs: Manchester United, Sunderland AFC
  • Premier League Titles: 5

We may be stretching the definition of ‘left back’ a little with this pick, but that is what made Irishman John O’Shea the player that he was. O’Shea was heralded throughout his Premier League career as a man that could play across the defensive line. 

O’Shea broke into the Manchester United side in the 2002/03 season where he first demonstrated his versatility on the way to his first Premier League title with the ‘Red Devils’ 

After spending 12 years at Old Trafford, O’Shea moved to Sunderland in 2011. He would spend the majority of his later career on Wearside, making 226 appearances for the ‘Black Cats’ and is fondly remembered by the supporters there. 

12. Luke Shaw

  • Club: Manchester United, Southampton FC
  • Premier League Titles: 0

Another player that could yet move himself higher in this list in the years to come, Luke Shaw is one of the best left-backs of the modern era.

Shaw started his career at Southampton, where his consistently impressive performances soon grabbed the attention of bigger teams.

In 2014 Shaw signed for Manchester United in what was (at the time) the biggest transfer fee for a teenager in the history of soccer.

The Englishman moved with the weight of this and many other pressures on his shoulders, with many critics saying he was too bulky to succeed at Old Trafford.

These critiques have never really gone away for Shaw, who has now established himself as Manchester United’s first choice left back. 

11. Gaël Clichy

  • Clubs: Manchester City, Arsenal FC
  • Premier League Titles: 3

A man that is fondly remembered by fans of two Premier League clubs, Frenchman Gaël Clichy starred for both Arsenal and Manchester City during his lengthy stay in England. 

Clichy first move to the Premier League in 2003, after shining in his first professional season with Cannes in his native France.

Arsenal was the team to pick up this shining talent and he would soon prove himself worthy of the famous shirt. It is widely known that Arsène Wenger personally visited the Clichy household in order to make the move happen.

After 187 appearances for the Gunners, Clichy move north to Manchester City and an exciting new project that was underway at the Etihad Stadium.

Clichy spent 6 years with the Sky Blues and was a key member of the side that famously won the Premier League title on the final day of the season in 2012. 

10. Andrew Robertson

  • Club: Liverpool FC, Hull City
  • Premier League Titles: 1

Another of the more ‘modern’ era left backs that are well on his way to becoming a Premier League legend is Liverpool man Andrew Robertson.

The Scotsman has shone for the ‘Reds’ in the past few seasons and was an integral part of their Premier League winning team in the 2020/21 season.

Robertson started his journey to the top in Scotland, where he played for Queens Park and Dundee United.

After a string of top performances, he was scouted by Hull City and made the switch to England in 2014, Robertson would go on to spend three years with the ‘Tigers’ and made 99 appearances for them.

In 2017, Liverpool swooped in for Robertson following Hull’s relegation to the Championship. Since then, he has simply gotten better with each season and is now regarded as the best left-back in the world by some experts. 

9. Phil Neville

  • Clubs: Liverpool FC, Everton FC
  • Premier League Titles: 6

Like his more famous brother Gary Neville, Philip Neville is a product of the famous ‘class of 92’ Manchester United side and went on to have a lengthy and successful career of his own.

Whilst Neville spent some years in Manchester, he is perhaps more well known for his spell at Everton. 

Neville joined the ‘Toffees’ in 2005 following 15-year career with Manchester United (and their youth setup) and quickly established himself as one of the most dependable players in their team.

As a result, Neville was instated as captain of the club in 2007 and remained on Merseyside until his retirement in 2013. 

Since retiring, Neville has gone into management and is currently in charge at MLS team Inter Miami. 

8. Leighton Baines

  • Clubs: Everton FC, Wigan Athletic
  • Premier League Titles: 0

Staying with Everton legends, the clubs finest ever left back and one of their most loyal servants is next on this list. Baines spent his formative years in the Everton youth academy before making a move to Wigan Athletic. 

The ‘Latics’ were still in the second division at the time and Baines had to bide his time before returning to his beloved Everton in 2007. The Englishman would spend the rest of his career with the team he loved playing for. 

Baines is not one of the most exciting players to have played the game, but his professionalism and reliability made him an invaluable asset for Everton for many years.

Over the course of his 13-year stay at Goodison Park, Baines appeared 348 times for Everton and scored 29 goals (many of which were penalties, something Baines was a specialist in). 

7. John Arne Riise

  • Clubs: Liverpool FC, Fulham FC
  • Premier League Titles: 0

When the term ‘cult hero’ is mentioned to Liverpool fans, many of them will likely bring up Norwegian left-back John Arne Riise in their list of their favorite players to start for the ‘Reds’.

Riise joined Liverpool in 2001 following an impressive stay at Ligue 1 side AS Monaco and became a key part of the team during their run to their famous UEFA Champions League title in Istanbul. Over the course of a 7-year Liverpool career, Riise made 234 appearances and scored 21 goals.

What made Riise stand out was that he was one of the most attacking left-backs that many Premier League fans had ever seen (this is now commonplace of course), he was also a very honest and open player throughout his time with Liverpool.

Riise retired in 2017 after becoming somewhat of a journeyman in the later years of his career. 

6. Graeme Le Saux

  • Clubs: Chelsea FC, Blackburn Rovers, Southampton FC
  • Premier League Titles: 1

Next up is a player who at one point was the most expensive defender of all time. 

Graeme Le Saux started his career with Chelsea before he left under a cloud of smoke in 1993 for Blackburn Rovers. At the time, Blackburn had just been bought out by a wealthy businessman that wanted to turn his local side into Premier League winners.

Le Saux was one of the key factors in making this happen, with Blackburn winning their one and only title in the 1994-95 season after finishing second a year earlier. Injuries and controversy started to pile up on Le Saux though, he returned to Chelsea in 1997. 

During his second spell in London, Le Saux continued to shine when not injured. Eventually, though, the injuries became too regular and he left for Southampton.  

5. Stuart Pearce 

  • Clubs: Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United, West Ham United
  • Premier League Titles: 0

Moving into the top five, we reach a man that was nicknamed ‘psycho’ throughout his career. Stuart Pearce was a formidable opponent that always had something to say.

Pearce played for a number of topflight clubs during a long and storied career but is most famous for his time with Nottingham Forest. Pearce was brought to the club by legendary manager Brian Clough in 1985 and went on to stay in the East Midlands until 1997. 

After suffering relegation with Forest in 1993, Pearce would stay at the club and captain them back to the Premier League the following season. 

In 1995, Pearce played a key role in helping Forest to 3rd in the Premier League and an European run. 

4. Nigel Winterburn

  • Clubs: Arsenal FC, West Ham United
  • Premier League Titles: 3

In the late ’80s and ’90s, there was a wave of talented defenders that came into the First Division and later the Premier League, one of the finest of them was Nigel Winterburn.

The Englishman started his career with Birmingham City in 1981 before moving southwards to Wimbledon, a team that was clearly on the up. 

At the time, Wimbledon was known as the ‘Crazy Gang’ due to the players and style of play that they utilized. This craziness earned them a lot of success though and would see them promoted to the First Division in 1986. 

In 1987, Winterburn moved to Arsenal and became a legend for the ‘Gunners’. In a 13-year Arsenal career, Winterburn appeared 440 times and scored 8 goals. Whilst at Arsenal, Winterburn enjoyed much success and won the Premier League title in 1997-98. 

3. Denis Irwin

  • Clubs: Manchester United, Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • Premier League Titles: 7

Staying in the 1990s era, Irishman Denis Irwin is the first player to make the podium of this list. Irwin was a vital component of the early Sir Alex Ferguson years at Manchester United and helped bring much of the Scotsman’s early success to Old Trafford. 

Irwin joined Manchester United in 1990, following four years with Oldham Athletic where he helped the Lancashire club reach the League Cup Final. Irwin would then spend 12 years with Manchester United and was for some time the finest left-back the club had ever employed. 

Premier League success was not hard to come by for the ‘Red Devils’ in this era, with Irwin being a part of seven Premier League winning sides during his time at Old Trafford.

In total, Irwin played 368 times for Manchester United before leaving for Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2002. 

2. Ashley Cole

  • Clubs: Chelsea FC, Arsenal FC,
  • Premier League Titles: 3

It was a tough decision, but second place on our list goes to Chelsea legend Ashley Cole. Cole initially began his Premier League career with Arsenal before leaving for the other side of London in 2006, Cole is not popular amongst Arsenal supporters. 

For Chelsea though, Cole is regarded as the club’s best ever left back and spent most of his prime years with the ‘Blues’.

Alongside other English heroes Frank Lampard and John Terry, Cole formed part of a core that helped Chelsea to the most successful period in their history. 

Cole spent a total of 8 years in a Chelsea shirt and made 229 appearances before he was released in 2014. Following this, Cole played for a few other clubs including LA Galaxy where he starred 89 times. 

1. Patrice Evra 

  • Clubs: Manchester United, West Ham United
  • Premier League Titles: 5

The final player on our list and therefore our choice for the best left-back to have played in the Premier League is Manchester United hero Patrice Evra. The Frenchmen was one of the most eccentric and dynamic players to graced the soccer field and is deservedly the winner.

Evra joined Manchester United in 2006 as a replacement for the injured Gabriel Heinze, Evra quickly proved himself better than the Argentinian and was soon the club’s first choice left back. Evra would remain in Manchester until 2014.

Alongside the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, Evra was a part of arguably the club’s greatest defensive line ever and was a part of a five Premier League winning team.

Evra also won the UEFA Champions League title in 2008 after being in the team that beat Chelsea on penalties. 

I listed the best Premier League right-backs of all time in this post.