Rio Ferdinand vs. John Terry: Who Is the Better Defender?

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 25, 2013

Rio Ferdinand and John Terry are two of the most successful defenders in the last decade of the English Premier League.

Both have won multiple EPL titles, both have won on the highest club level in Europe (the UEFA Champions League) and both have also become notorious for their off-the-pitch antics. 

While we can poke fun at the off-pitch headline-stealing incidents all we want, when both center-backs are on the pitch and healthy, they can make the headlines for all of the right reasons. 

The two have had similar career trajectories and have plenty of things in common, but which defender is the better of the two? 

That is the million dollar question that we are here to answer. 

Rio FerdinandTale of the TapeJohn Terry
May 5, 1996Professional DebutOctober 28, 1998
6Premier League Titles3
433Appearances for Current Club576
81Appearances for England78

First, let's look at the numbers that everyone cares about. 

In a professional career that has seen him don the kit of three different clubs on a permanent basis, Ferdinand has found himself in the PFA Team of the Year six times and in the FIFA World XI once for his performance during the 2007-08 season. 

The 34-year-old Manchester United defender may have a great domestic record in the honors business, but the 32-year-old Chelsea stalwart has a better continental and international honors record. 

Terry was named to the FIFPro World XI for five consecutive years from 2005 to 2009, and he also found himself in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament. 

As for how the two players line up on the international level, Ferdinand made 81 appearances for England before his international retirement back in May. Terry, meanwhile, is still chugging along with the Three Lions and has made 78 appearances for the side now managed by Roy Hodgson. 

The players' records on the international level get even more similar as both players have worn the captain's armband for their country. 

With both players receiving plenty of honors at every level of the game, you have to dig much deeper to see which defender is the better one of the two. 

If you compare the styles of play that the duo bring to the pitch each week, they do contrast quite a bit. 

Ferdinand is the type of center-back who is excellent with his feet: His passing skills and tackling are considered two of his strengths. 

But when it comes to aerial battles on both ends of the pitch, Terry is the man you want to call on. 

Terry has scored 32 goals19 of which have been headersin an EPL career that spans 16 seasons, all of them with Chelsea; Ferdinand has only found the back of the net 11 times at the club level with West Ham United, Leeds United and of course Manchester United. 

Now, if you were to decide this battle of skill with penalty kicks, you would assume that Ferdinand would have the upper hand, especially based on Terry's most remembered penalty, a dubious miss at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final against Ferdinand's United. 

All jokes aside about Terry's penalty taking on that fateful, rainy night in Russia, the 32-year-old would be the player that you would want stepping to the penalty spot to take a penalty when compared to Ferdinand's skill set.

It is worth noting that Ferdinand was not forced to take a penalty back in 2008 when the Red Devils lifted the Champions League trophy for the first time in his United career. 

So now that we have read off the credentials for both of these defenders with an immense amount of experience, it is time to decide which one is the better of the two. 

Both players possess irreplaceable leadership qualities on the pitch, both can be relied on for top-notch defending, but one is more well-rounded than the other. 

Terry has the edge over Ferdinand in the battle of two wily English veterans who are sure to be around for a few more years. 

Who do you think is a better defender, Ferdinand or Terry? 

Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter, @JTansey90.


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