Central defenders: size isn’t everything

Adam Brown

Traditionally, a centre-back would be considered limited if they weren’t tall in stature, dominant and generally no nonsense. But how true is this? Some of the games best ever defenders have been under 6 ft tall. 

Of course, the majority of these defenders have been aided by playing in some very good teams, but if this is what the best teams look for in a centre-back, isn’t this what all teams should be looking to emulate?

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Whether it’s compared domestically, in Europe or internationally, the success of these defenders hasn’t ever been beaten. In terms of their careers, there’s not much more you can achieve – Fabio Cannavaro even won the Ballon d’Or in 2006.

Effectively, this dismisses the myth that it’s paramount for all defenders to be of a certain height to compete. While it does help against teams who are a threat aerially, the benefits of a smaller central defender can aid teams competing at the highest level – teams who control the game and play out from the back. It’s no surprise to see that Dutch players like de Boer and Koeman excelled at this, evolving from their ‘Total Football’ Netherlands roots.

So if you are a player who loves defending but has concerns over height, look no further than teams like Barcelona and Italy who have produced centre-backs of the highest quality, regardless of size.



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