12 of the best goalscoring defenders in football history

Pique Champions League goals

Gerard Pique became the top-scoring stopper in Champions League history last week, so we’ve picked out some more of the most prolific players who started at the back

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Laurent Blanc (146 goals)

Eric Cantona, Roger Milla and Olivier Giroud all played for Montpellier, but Blanc is the club’s all-time leading scorer after netting 77 times in 251 games between 1983 and 1991. He came through as an attacking midfielder in his early days and many of his goals came from the penalty spot, but he also took the odd free-kick – including a brilliant curler in Montpellier's 1990 Coupe de France triumph over RC Paris.

Blanc’s most memorable open-play effort was the golden goal which sent France through to the last eight of the 1998 World Cup at the expense of Paraguay. 

Franz Beckenbauer (108 goals)

Beckenbauer wasn’t a defender in the traditional sense: the former Germany and Bayern Munich man spent much of his career in an attacking sweeper role which allowed him to advance up the pitch when his side had the ball.

That helps to explain why he was so effective in and around the opposition penalty area: 75 goals for Bayern, 19 for New York Cosmos and 14 for the national team. One of his most famous efforts came in the 1970 World Cup against England, Beckenbauer scoring Germany’s first as Die Mannschaft came from 2-1 down to win 3-2 in the quarter-finals.

Sinisa Mihajlovic (105 goals)

Mihajlovic was an expert free-kick taker and the majority of his 105 goals for club and country came from dead-ball situations. The Yugoslavia international struck 10 times for his country, including a low free-kick to open the scoring against Iran at the 1998 World Cup, and on 61 occasions for four different sides in Serie A.

Together with Andrea Pirlo, the ex-Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio and Inter left-back holds the all-time record for most free-kick goals (28) in the Italian top flight, and he also scored regularly from the penalty spot during his time on the peninsula.

Graham Alexander (130 goals)

Despite being occasionally deployed in defensive midfield at various clubs throughout his career, Alexander was a right-back by trade – although a glance at his scoring record would seem to suggest he played much further forward.

The former Scunthorpe, Luton, Preston and Burnley man scored 130 goals in 981 matches at club level, including 11 in both 2002/03 (for Preston) and 2008/09 (for Burnley). A penalty specialist, Alexander also played 40 times for Scotland but never got on the scoresheet for his country.

Sergio Ramos (88 goals)

Ramos’s record isn’t quite as impressive as many of the names on this list, but it’s worth remembering that the 32-year-old still has plenty left to offer before he hangs up his boots. The striking thing about the Real Madrid defender, however, is the significance of the goals he’s scored.

The Spanish stopper is yet to net at an international tournament, but he’s struck twice in two separate Champions League finals against Atletico Madrid and also notched several vital efforts in crunch La Liga encounters. Ramos’s tally only becomes more impressive when you remember that he rarely takes penalties.

Steve Bruce (113 goals)

Mention the words ‘Steve Bruce’ and ‘goal’ to any Manchester United fan and there’s only game that will spring to mind. The former Red Devils centre-back scored twice late on in a pivotal come-from-behind victory over Sheffield Wednesday in 1992/93 – and had the defender not popped up in the Owls’ penalty box, Alex Ferguson’s side may not have gone on to win the club’s first league title in 26 years.

Goals weren’t exactly a rarity for Bruce, though: the uncapped Englishman netted 113 of them throughout a career which also included spells at Gillingham, Norwich, Birmingham and Sheffield United. The 1990/91 season was his most prolific  – 19 goals in all competitions.