We continue our selection of the Ultimate XI Chelsea team by looking this week at the best players in the past 20 years to operate at the heart of the Blues’ defense – the center-backs.
We’ve shortlisted six of Chelsea’s best central defenders of the past two decades. We want you to select two of them below to feature in our U.S. Ultimate XI team.
- Chelsea debut: Coventry City (a), Premier League, 15.08.98
- Appearances: 219+3
- Goals: 7
- Honors: FA Cup 2000, Super Cup 1998
Desailly was at the peak of his powers when he arrived from AC Milan in 1998. “The Rock” became an influential figure at Chelsea for six seasons, taking over as club captain from Dennis Wise in 2001. His goal in our 2–1 win against Liverpool in 2003 helped us qualify for the Champions League. He also played a big role in the development of his young partner in defense, John Terry.
- Chelsea debut: Aston Villa (h), League Cup, 28.10.98
- Appearances: 686+31
- Goals: 67
- Honors: Premier League 2005, 2006, 2010, 2015, 2017, FA Cup 2000, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, League Cup 2005, 2007, 2015, Champions League 2012, Europa League 2013
“Captain, Leader, Legend” states a banner at Stamford Bridge, which concisely describes Terry, the most successful captain in Chelsea’s history. The home-grown player won it all during his 19 seasons at Stamford Bridge, lifting 14 trophies as our skipper and appearing in 717 games, a club total surpassed only by Ron Harris and Peter Bonetti.
- Chelsea debut: Manchester United (h), Premier League, 15.08.04
- Appearances: 203+7
- Goals: 11
- Honors: Premier League 2005, 2006, 2010, FA Cup 2007, 2009, League Cup 2005, 2007
Signed from Porto in 2004, Carvalho was an integral part of Chelsea’s defense for six seasons, winning three Premier League titles and forming a formidable partnership with John Terry. The first of those titles in 2004/05 saw the Blues concede only 15 goals. His importance in the squad was emphasized when his team-mates named him Players’ Player of the Year in 2008.
- Chelsea debut: Liverpool (h), Premier League, 06.02.11
- Appearances: 232+16
- Goals: 18
- Honors: Premier League 2017, FA Cup 2012, 2018, Champions League 2012, Europa League 2013, 2019
A fan favorite during his two spells at Chelsea, David Luiz brought a combination of physical strength, high work-rate and excellent distribution to his position in the center of defense. He came back from injury to partner Gary Cahill in our Champions League victory in 2012 and after returning to the Bridge in 2016, he played a vital role in a three-man defense as we won the Premier League.
- Chelsea debut: Manchester United (h), Premier League, 05.02.12
- Appearances: 270+20
- Goals: 25
- Honors: Premier League 2015, 2017, FA Cup 2012, 2018, League Cup 2015, Champions League 2012, Europa League 2013, 2019
Cahill enjoyed a hugely successful seven-and-a-half season spell at Stamford Bridge, winning eight trophies with the club and being selected to the PFA Team of the Year on three occasions. Like David Luiz, he also came back from injury to play in our 2012 Champions League triumph, and he was a key man in our defense when we lifted the Premier League trophy in 2015 and 2017.
- Chelsea debut: Arsenal, Community Shield, 06.08.17
- Appearances: 100+5
- Goals: 6
- Honors: FA Cup 2018, Europa League 2019
Since he joined Chelsea from Roma in 2017, Rudiger has been a constant presence in central defense for the Blues, partnering Gary Cahill in our 2018 FA Cup triumph and playing alongside David Luiz for most of last season before injury ruled him out of the Europa League final. Charismatic and vocal, the German is a fan favorite who wears his heart on his sleeve when he plays for the Blues.