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14 defenders that should have been centre-forwards

These lot foolishly dedicated their careers to the dark art of defending.

However, if they had been centre-forwards, we reckon they would have scored shed-loads of goals.

1 Roberto Carlos

Real Madrid v Mallorca


With thighs like tree trunks and a shot that could topple the Great Wall of China, Real Madrid’s marauding Brazilian would have scored plenty as a No9.

He didn’t do too badly from left-back, scoring over 100 career goals including some physics defying long-range efforts.

2 Marco Materazzi

FC Internazionale Milano v AC Milan - Serie A

Still officially the most-hated player in France, Materazzi was so much more than just ‘that guy who Zidane nutted’.

The Italian centre-back twice reached double figures in the season goal-scoring stakes. In 2006/07 he scored 10 goals in 30 leagues for Inter. Imagine the damage he would have caused up top.

3 Naldo

VfL Wolfsburg v Manchester United FC - UEFA Champions League

Another Brazilian that probably only became a defender because he was too polite.

A giant of a man who can reportedly strike a dead ball upwards of 60mph. Would be a nightmare to defend against.

4 Franz Beckenbauer


Forget about all the nasty corruption business for a moment and remember Der Kaiser for what he used to be.

The greatest sweeper of all time and the original ball-playing defender. Averaged a goal roughly every seven games. Utter class.

5 Sergio Ramos

Real Madrid CF v Real Sociedad de Futbol - La Liga

You get the sense the Spanish defender still resents being stuck at the back. Tremendously comfortable in possession and partial to forward surge.

Not to mention a Champions League final goal.

6 Frank de Boer

Frank de Boer of Holland

A reliable penalty-taker and another whose poise and technique would have served him well in front of goal.

7 Graham Alexander

Hull City v Burnley - Premier League

Okay, so we’ve only included the Preston and Burnley hero because of his emphatic penalty taking.

He probably wouldn’t have been much good as a forward. Still, what a legend.

8 Marcus Tulio Tanaka

Japan v Cameroon: Group E - 2010 FIFA World Cup

This Japanese cult hero is an absolute must-include when discussing goal-scoring defenders. He averaged just over a goal every four games for Urawa Red Diamonds and Nagoya Grampus.

Most of his goals came from open play as he regularly used to depart his position at centre-back and help out as an additional playmaker.

9 John Terry


World-class forward may be stretching it but we reckon JT would have made a half-decent target man.

After all, he has got the exact same amount of career goals as Andres Iniesta – 72.

10 Fernando Hierro

Fernando Hierro of Real Madrid

Admittedly he played a few games as a defensive midfielder but even when he was at the heart of the defence he contributed through penalties, free-kicks and the odd wonderstrike.

He scored over 100 La Liga goals for Real Madrid but only one in the Premier League for Bolton. Shame.

11 Ian Harte

Leeds V Spurs

Slow as snail lugging a shopping trolley full of bowling balls.

But what a left peg.

12 John Arne Riise

Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur

The Norwegian Roberto Carlos.

If he played as a forward the ground staff would have to reinforce the net.

13 Daniel Passarella

Argentina Captain Daniel Passarella

The legendary Argentine captain frequently joined attacks and possessed a surprisingly cultured pair of feet for man who used to plough opponents out the way with his elbows.

90 goals in 226 league games for River Plate represents an astonishing return for a sweeper.

Only one defender has a better goalscoring record in the history of the professional game…

14 Ronald Koeman


The inspiration for this list and without a doubt the greatest goalscoring defender ever to grace a football pitch.

A prolific scorer in his native Netherlands as well as for Barcelona and the Dutch national team.

In 1987/88 he scored 21 goals in 32 league games for PSV.

Koeman finished his career with 253 goals from 763 games – that’s a goal every three games. As a defender.

You can’t help but wonder how many Koeman would have scored as a forward…