The centre-back. Without doubt, the hardest, toughest man on the pitch. The central defender may not get the plaudits and headlines that the flashy, superstar striker receives every week, but that's okay - he wouldn't want them, anyway.
This guy turns up to work, does his job and goes home. No thrills. No fancy accessories. Just plain black boots, earring-less plug-holes and un-dyed hair. A man's man. Richard Keys' fantasy. When we think of mental centre-backs, every Briton is immediately teleported back to Terry Butcher's blood-stained, mad-eyed stare against Sweden in 1989.
Unfortunately, Butcher never featured in the newly-formatted Premier League, whose inception arrived at the beginning of the 1992/93 campaign. But we have been treated to some of the finest defenders in football history over the past three decades, and plenty of them have washed up on Great Britain's glorious shores.
And this got us thinking: Who are the best 25 centre-backs - ranked - to have ever graced the Premier League? After banging our heads together for several weeks, dozens of in-office scraps and exactly seven broken friendships, we have come to our conclusions.
Without further ado, let's dive two-footed into this elite list of defensive supermen.
25. Robert Huth
No striker has ever relished a battle with Robert Huth.
Possibly the scariest man on this list, Huth won the league title twice with Chelsea, spent nine years battling relegation with Middlesbrough and Stoke City, before completing the unlikeliest of reunions with the Premier League trophy at Leicester City. A history-maker and an all-time great. The Huth? You can't handle the Huth!
24. Toby Alderweireld
On his way to becoming a Premier League legend. Toby Alderweireld began his English journey with Southampton in 2014, and after one year, it was evident he was too good for mid-table obscurity. Five years later, and he has proven everyone right, becoming a regular in Tottenham Hotspur's (previously) reliable defence.
23. William Gallas
Best remembered for throwing a hissy fit and sitting down on the pitch after his teammate conceded a last-minute penalty, William Gallas was actually a celebrated defender during his time at Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs. An excellent London tourist.
22. Gareth Southgate
Steady, unspectacular, but Mr. Reliable. Southgate's career enjoyed a wonderful rise, arriving in the top flight with Crystal Palace, leading Aston Villa to League Cup success and an FA Cup final, before eventually ending his career in a Europa League final against Sevilla. Currently bringing football home - slowly.
21. Jan Vertonghen
The Batman to Alderweireld's Robin, Jan Vertonghen has spent the last eight years wowing White Hart Lane with his superman heroics (and celebration). A figure of authority and leadership at the back, the Belgian will be sorely missed.
20. Gary Cahill
If his name was Garyo Cahillinho, he'd have been one of the most hailed centre-backs in football history! Well, maybe not. But Cahill epitomised what it meant to be a full-blooded, heart on sleeve defender. A warrior for Chelsea over seven years, and still going strong at 34 years of age.
19. Kolo Toure
Kolo, Kolo Kolo, Kolo Kolo, Kolo Kolo Toure! Yep, before the song, there was a man. An invincible man. A man who took no prisoners, in training or on the pitch, and led Arsenal to some of the greatest triumphs in their illustrious history. He has a brother too, apparently. If only there was a song to remember his name...
18. Sami Hyypia
A Finnish legend (see caption for joke). Sami Hyypia was a regular at the heart of Liverpool's defence for almost a decade, and all at the price of £2.6m. Part of the famous cup treble winning side. A Red through and through.
17. Colin Hendry
Premier League winner with Blackburn Rovers. Treble winner with Rangers. Tough as old boots. Played for 20 years. A proper warrior. A shoe-in for our list. Nice one, Colin.
16. Martin Keown
Solid defender, once physically and emotionally assaulted Ruud van Nistelrooy in one of the worst acts of poor sportsmanship that football has ever seen. Solid defender, though.
15. Ledley King
The finest centre-back we hardly ever saw. Injury ruined the vertical trajectory of the Tottenham Hotspur legend's career, and yet, Ledley King is still considered one of the greats. What might have been, but what still was.
14. Paul McGrath
Spent seven excellent years at Man Utd, then going onto Aston Villa to defy his physical capacities and recurring injuries to cement his place in Premier League folklore. FA Cup and double League Cup winner. Bosh.
13. Jamie Carragher
One of the best centre-backs never to have won a Premier League title? Probably. Consistency and reliability were the name of the game for Jamie Carragher, and he rarely let the side down.
12. Marcel Desailly
An OG Chelsea legend. Not one of these new money heroes. Nicknamed The Rock, Marcel Desailly could turn his hand to anything on the pitch. Could probably be a top box office actor if he fancied, too.
11. Gary Pallister
Voted in the Premier League Team of the Year four times. Just as many Premier League titles too. You can't argue with the people, and he is the people's champion.
10. Ricardo Carvalho
Half of one of the best central partnerships in Premier League history, Ricardo Carvalho had the hair and sharp looks of a sexy, mysterious foreigner, but the spirit and fight of a 90's British defender.
9. Virgil van Dijk
The critics sharpened their knives when Liverpool splashed £75m on Virgil van Dijk in January 2018, but he has gone on to become a club legend. One league and one Champions League title later, the doubters have been forced to withdraw their unbloodied weapons.
8. Jaap Stam
One of Sir Alex Ferguson's only major regrets was allowing Jaap Stam to leave Man Utd too soon - that says it all really. Hard as nails and a striker's nightmare. No one fancied coming up against Stam.
7. Steve Bruce
The greatest player in English football history - never to have played for England. A no-nonsense, passionate and commanding defender, Steve Bruce threw his body on the line countless times to claim all three points - and it shows. In all seriousness, a quality, quality defender - and a top bloke.
6. Vincent Kompany
Started at the bottom now we're here. Vincent Kompany is Man City. The Belgian defender joined the Citizens at the beginning of their ascent, and carried them all the way to the summit. Rock solid in defence, a leader off the field and scorer of the odd vital goal in title winning seasons. Couldn't ask for more.
5. Nemanja Vidic
The heir to Stam's throne. Nemanja Vidic produced eight of the most consistent and terrifying years of football at the heart of Man Utd's defence, winning it all with the Red Devils. How the Theatre of Dreams misses a presence like this man in their side.
4. Sol Campbell
Sol Campbell made the unforgivable move across north London, but in the long run, it was the right decision. He became an icon of the game for Arsenal and England, as a graceful, bullish and speedy centre-back.
3. Tony Adams
If Tony Adams could rip his beating heart out of his chest to show you how much Arsenal, England and football meant to him, then he'd probably give it a go. An uncompromising, full-blooded, committed, talented defender. Had his iconic moment with the title-winning goal against Everton in 1998. Deserved.
2. Rio Ferdinand
One of the best ball-playing defenders in football history, Rio Ferdinand was always destined for the top. Six league titles in 12 years, the better half of some of the greatest partnerships the game has seen, and a wonderful, classy operator. The game is still missing a Rio.
1. John Terry
Say what you want about the guy off the field, but on it, he was the very best the Premier League has ever witnessed. A leader, an inspiration, reliable, evergreen: a legend. The heartbeat of Chelsea for 20 years, we might never see another defender quite like John Terry.
Source : 90min