After looking back last week at our top goalkeepers of the past 20 years, we continue our selection of the Ultimate XI Chelsea team by turning the spotlight on the best full-backs to play for the Blues in the past two decades.
Playing as a full-back is arguably the most demanding position in football, requiring players who can balance their defensive discipline and positioning with the dynamism to break forward quickly and support the attack down their flanks.
For the selection of our Ultimate XI, we want you to select two players from our shortlist of six who have excelled for the Blues in the wide positions since the turn of the Millennium.
Chelsea debut: Newcastle United (h), Premier League, 19.08.01
Honours: Premier League 2005, 2006, League Cup 2005
A versatile defender who could be deployed anywhere across the back four, Gallas played a big part in our back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006. Dependable in defence with a habit for spectacular goal-line clearances, the Frenchman also scored some memorable goals, including a stunning late winner against Spurs in March 2006.
Chelsea debut: Manchester United (h), Premier League, 15.08.04
Honours: Premier League 2005, 2006, 2010, FA Cup 2007, 2010, 2012, League Cup 2005, 2007, Champions League 2012, Europa League 2013
Signed from Porto in 2004, Ferreira was a dependable full-back who helped Chelsea FC win several titles during his nine seasons with the club. Ostensibly a right-back, his versatility saw him also used as a left-back or centre-back and he became a big favourite with the Stamford Bridge faithful who showed their appreciation for his loyal and committed service after his final game in May 2013.
Chelsea debut: Charlton Athletic (h), Premier League, 09.09.06
Honours: Premier League 2010, FA Cup 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, League Cup 2007, Champions League 2012, Europa League 2013
One of the Premier League’s finest left-backs, Ashley Cole was an integral member of the team which enjoyed tremendous success during his eight seasons at Stamford Bridge. He helped us win the Double in 2010, converted a penalty when we beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in 2012 and won four FA Cups with the Blues to become the first player to lift the trophy seven times.
Chelsea debut: Portsmouth (a), League Cup, 24.09.08
Honours: Premier League 2010, 2015, 2017, FA Cup 2009, 2010, 2012, League Cup 2015, Champions League 2012, Europa League 2013
Originally deployed as a centre-back, Ivanovic enjoyed much of his success at Chelsea FC as a right-back, twice being selected to the PFA Team of the Year in that position. Defensively solid, he also had the knack for scoring crucial goals including winners against Napoli in the 2012 Champions League, Benfica in the 2013 Europa League final and Liverpool in the 2015 League Cup semi-finals.
Chelsea debut: Wolves (h), League Cup, 25.09.12
Honours: Premier League 2015, 2017, FA Cup 2018, League Cup 2015, Europa League 2013, 2019
Since he arrived from Marseille in 2012, Azpilicueta has been a dependable member of our defensive core over the last eight seasons as a right-back, left-back, centre-back and wing-back. Named club captain at the start of this season, the Spaniard rarely misses a match and is 16th on Chelsea’s all-time appearance list after playing his 374th game in our 4-0 win over Everton last month.
Chelsea debut: Leicester City (a), League Cup, 20.09.16
Honours: Premier League 2017, FA Cup 2018, Europa League 2019
Since he joined Chelsea FC from Fiorentina in 2016, no defender in the Premier League has scored more often than Marcos Alonso, who was a key member of the side which won the league in 2017 and the FA Cup the following year. Strong in the air and unerring in his accuracy from free-kicks with his left foot, the Spaniard raised his tally for the Blues to 22 with his brace against Bournemouth in February.
Who are our best full-backs of the past 20 years? Vote below!