Power Ranking Liverpool's 10 All-Time Best Defenders

Craig Davies@@cjdavies5Contributor IIIAugust 15, 2012

Power Ranking Liverpool's 10 All-Time Best Defenders

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    Many great names have graced the hallowed turf of Anfield, with fans of each generation able to pinpoint those who have enjoyed the most success and had the biggest impact.

    Picking just 10 can prove to be a tricky task, but that is what has been done here.

    So, who are the 10 greatest defenders in the history of the club?

    Have a peek at what follows and see if you agree with those who made the cut.

Mark Lawrenson

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    Mark Lawrenson is a man whose Liverpool career could have been longer had they not been outbid for the then-Preston North End defender four years previous.

    Their £100,000 bid went above and beyond the £75,000 bid put in by Liverpool, which signed him in 1981 and made him the most expensive defender in Britain in the process with a £1 million swoop.

    After initially starting out as a left-back, the centre-back was blessed with speed and skill, whilst also possessing great tackling abilities and strength.

    During his 356 appearances, he notched 18 goals and had an impressive trophy haul to match.

Steve Nicol

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    After arriving at the club at just 19 in October 1981 from Ayr United, Steve Nicol would go on to have a stellar career at Liverpool.

    In his stay of a little over 13 years, he amassed numerous League titles and FA Cups, whilst also adding a European Cup to his collection after missing the first penalty in Rome in 1984.

    Costing £300,000, he was seen as a challenger and eventual replacement for Phil Neal and went on to make 468 appearances, netting 46 times.

    He left in early 1995 and eventually moved on to the USA via a number of other English clubs.

Sami Hyypia

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    One of the defining characters of the modern Liverpool era, Sami Hyypia became a real fan favourite during his decade at Merseyside.

    He could also go down as one of the bargains of the Premier League era, with Gerard Houllier paying Willem II around £2.5 million for his services.

    During his stay, he formed a formidable partnership first with Stephane Henchoz and then with Jamie Carragher, with his no-nonsense displays proving integral to the side.

    After 454 appearances and 35 goals, it was time to depart for Bayer Leverkusen, with whom he returned recently for a preseason friendly.

Ron Yates

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    Described by Bill Shankly as a colossus, Ron Yates was installed as captain of Liverpool a mere six months after arriving.

    The "Jesus Christ, son, you must be seven feet tall!" remark on that first meeting is part of the folklore of the club, and Yates set about leading the club to success as one of the longest-serving captains in its history.

    In 1963-64, he led the team to its first league title in 17 years, following it up with a first FA Cup the next season.

    The footballing giant made 454 appearances in total, and upon leaving, he didn’t travel too far by plying his trade for Tranmere Rovers.

Phil Thompson

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    A man who everyone knows is Liverpool through and through, Phil Thompson has occupied a variety of roles within the club from player to coach and assistant manager.

    His partnership with Emlyn Hughes in a large part formed the basis on which success was built and from which the team’s style of play was created, or should I say changed to.

    From standing on the Kop as a child, you can only imagine the overwhelming emotions felt as he lifted the European Cup, the club’s third European triumph coming a month after a first League Cup win.

    After replacing Graeme Souness as captain, he knuckled down and continued to be an integral cog in the Liverpool machine before retiring after 477 appearances.

Tommy Smith

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    A Liverpool hardman possibly best summed up by Bill Shankly, who once said, "Tommy Smith wasn't born, he was quarried."

    In a 10-year period, he missed 41 of 420 first-division fixtures, and although portrayed as a tough guy, his disciplinary record says otherwise.

    Indeed, Smith never got a red card and only got a handful of yellows.

    He is perhaps best remembered in the heart of the defence alongside Ron Yeats, but he also covered a number of other positions during his Liverpool career.

    There are only a select few who have played for the club more times than Smith, who racked up 638 appearances and won every trophy that he possibly could.

Phil Neal

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    Phil Neal was one of the most consistent players to have donned the Reds jersey and was also the unfortunate man to have been captain on the night of the Heysel tragedy.

    Brought in from Northampton Town for nearly £70,000, his tough style ensured he was a success at the club, and he went on to win many trophies.

    Amongst those were multiple European Cups, League Championships and League Cups, also making 650 appearances, a stunning 417 being consecutive.

    Bob Paisley's first signing for the club was also renowned for his great positional sense and is a big figure in the history of the club.

Emlyn Hughes

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    The late, great Emlyn Hughes is truly a Liverpool legend, a dominant force at the back who could also bring the ball forward.

    His runs through midfield brought 49 goals in 665 appearances, in addition to creating numerous openings for colleagues.

    "Crazy Horse" was the subject of years of chasing from Bill Shankly, who signed one of the greatest players to have ever pulled on the Liverpool shirt, beating many others to his signature in the process.

    His trophy haul is enviable to most people, and no one can dispute his inclusion here.

Jamie Carragher

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    One of the greatest players to ever don the Liverpool jersey, Jamie Carragher has been the lifeblood of the club's back four for many years.

    His interceptions and last-minute blocks have emphasised his importance to the club, something that was never more evident than in Istanbul on an epic night.

    He has partnered many great central defenders during his time at the club, showcasing his ability through staying power alone, and has also seen many more go before him.

    His 701 appearances is an impressive tally, whilst his five goals in that time show that he certainly chose the correct position in which to ply his trade.

Alan Hansen

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    It would be fair to say that, in his prime, very few could match the heights of Alan Hansen, a peerless defender who boasts one of the most impressive trophy hauls the club, if not football, has seen.

    Signed from Partick Thistle for £100,000 in 1977 on Jock Stein's recommendation, it took over a year for "Jocky" to replace Emlyn Hughes in the team. As they say, the rest is history.

    Bob Paisley's words describe his qualities much better than I possibly could when he said (per LFCHistory.net): 

    "Alan Hansen is the defender with the pedigree of an international striker.

    He is quite simply the most skillful centre-half I have ever seen in the British game. He is a joy to watch. Alan has always been an excellent footballer, a beautifully balanced player who carries the ball with control and grace.

    He has a very measured, long stride and is much faster than he looks. I can't think more than a couple of players who could beat him over 100 metres.

    He has both the ability and the patience to launch attacks from deep positions."

    In 620 appearances, he scored 14 times.

The Nearly Men

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    So, there we have it.

    A breakdown of the finest 10 men to occupy one of the back four positions throughout the history of Liverpool FC.

    No place for Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, who are rocks at the back at the moment but simply shouldn't be included...yet.

    Other who came close include Gerry Byrne, Chris Lawler and Rob Jones, whilst most recently, John Arne Riise and Steve Finnan proved integral parts of the side.

    People are always going to miss out, though, and I'm sure you wont be shy in letting me know what you would do differently.