To think of defending is to think of AC Milan.
The Serie A giants have had plenty of talented forwards and creative players over the years but they’ve always had a reputation as being nigh on impregnable at the back.
Leonardo Bonucci has all the attributes needed to potentially join the list of Milan’s all-time greatest defenders.
If he does he’ll be in esteemed company…
Sir Alex Ferguson was once famously left in awe of Cafu’s work rate.
The Brazilian right-back marauded up and down the flank with carefree abandon and was respected as much for his attacking qualities as he was for his defending.
The 2002 World Cup-winning captain was ahead of his time and is still the king among wannabe wing-backs everywhere.
Bonucci nearly cried when he swapped shirts with Nesta early on in his career — that’s the level of hero worship the legendary Milan centre-back received from his peers.
Nesta’s averaged a trophy a year during his decade with Milan, including two Champions League victories in 2003 and 2007.
He retired from international duty just after helping Italy win the World Cup but that didn’t stop Roberto Donadoni and Marcello Lippi both trying to bring him back for Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 respectively.
A veteran of 412 games for Milan, Paolo’s dad was respected as much for his defensive abilities as he was his leadership.
Maldini senior embodied Milan’s soul and was capable of playing anywhere across the back four.
The Maldini name will be synonymous with Milan and Italian football for decades to come.
Capable of playing at the heart of defence or as a holding midfielder, Trapattoni was key when Milan first started to dominate Europe in the 1960s.
Obsessively organised and uncompromising in a tackle, he was on Milan’s book for 18 years and played for the badge every single second.
Only two men have played for games for the Rossoneri than Costacurta — and they are the next two entries on this list.
After spending the first season of his professional career on loan at Monza, the legendary Italian spent twenty seasons at the San Siro, cementing an enduring legacy.
The ultimate professional, Costacurta only scored three goal throughout his career, one of which came in his final game for the club.
Milan retired the No6 shirt in honour of Baresi at the end of his 20th (and final) season with the club.
Simply one of the greatest defenders to ever grace a pitch, he was voted Milan’s Player of the Century in 1999.
Power, elegance, pace, concentration – he had it all.
As close to the perfect defender as there’s ever been.
Maldini played 902 games for Milan in a career spanning a quarter of a century.
He and Costacurta are the only non-Real Madrid players to win five European Cups with Maldini lifting the trophy as captain in 2003 and 2007, following in his father’s footsteps.
Only Maldini’s mentor Baresi and legendary German defender Franz Beckenbauer could claim to be on the same level.
Milan have said they would only bring the No3 out of retirement for one of Maldini’s sons.
We are unlikely to ever see another like him.
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