The top five Manchester United defenders of all time

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) /

Manchester United have had some of the best defenders ply their trade at Old Trafford over the years, here at the top five.

A stable and solid defence is the core part of any successful side. Manchester United have always built their teams on the foundations of exemplary defenders from the days of Matt Busby to Sir Alex Ferguson.

However often times, defenders go under the radar and are relatively unappreciated despite the valuable work they do for the team.

Many players on the list might not be well-known names at Old Trafford but they have all made indelible contributions to the success of the club.

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Here are the top five Manchester United defenders of all time.

5. Billy Foulkes

Club Appearances: 688

Goals:  9

The accomplished centre back spent nineteen years at Old Trafford. He was the foundation of Matt Busby’s incredible successful side.

Foulkes was a stalwart figure at the back and a no-nonsense defender. His tough tackling nature made him a nuisance for some of the best attackers in the world.

Foulkes was another survivor of the Munich air disaster which remained ingrained in his memory. He became captain of the club after the tragedy and lifted the Red Devils’ first ever European Cup.

His most memorable goal for the club would have been the one he scored against Real Madrid in the semi-finals of United’s famous European Cup glory.

4. Gary Pallister

Club Appearances: 437

Goals: 15

The towering centre back formed one of the best defensive partnerships with Steve Bruce during the Red Devils’ emergence as a superpower under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Pallister was a strong and composed centre-half with a bullet header.

He won PFA Player of the year in 1992 and helped the club to four Premier League titles. His last one in 1997 will be most remembered for when he scored a brace against Liverpool at Anfield.

Without a shadow of a doubt Pallister was instrumental in establishing the Red Devils dominance in the Premier League.

3. Nemanja Vidic

Club Appearances: 300

Goals: 21

The tough tackling Serbian centre-back will always be a cult hero at Old Trafford. Vidic spent nine years at the club during the Red Devils’ most successful spell.

He lifted the Champions League once after a spectacular display against Chelsea and has five Premier League winning medals.

Always reliable and tough, his fighting spirit endeared him to the United faithful and he is still fondly remembered at the club.

2. Rio Ferdinand

Club Appearances: 455

Goals: 8

When Ferdinand arrived at Old Trafford he came as the most expensive defender in the world. The English international had big shoes to fill but he duly delivered.

During his 12 year spell with the club, Rio Ferdinand won almost everything imaginable in the world of football.

A cool, calm and composed centre-back, Rio Ferdinand was one of the best in his generation. He occasionally struggled with niggling injuries which somewhat curtailed his career.

Nonetheless his trophy hoard merits him his place on the list.

1. Gary Neville

Club Appearances: 602

Goals: 7

When you think of Gary Neville, you think of Manchester United. The two are synonymous. Neville developed in the club’s academy from a young age and was a key part of the famous class of 92.

The right-back spent almost twenty years at the club and he will be remembered for his never say die attitude as well as his loyalty and passion towards United.

He lifted the Premier League eight times and has two Champions League winners medals. Without a shadow of a doubt he is the best United defender to have played for the club so far.

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Who is your favourite United defender of all time?