The position of left back in a soccer team gives a player many responsibilities. They must defend, as part of the important defensive unit, as well as begin and take part in attacking movements. Left backs traditionally wear the number three shirt and generally form part of the back-four with two centre backs and a right back.
As the game of soccer has evolved, the role of left back has become more of an attacking position, with defenders often being very effective when going forward. The abilities required to make a great left back include tackling, pace and passing with the more complete modern-day left back also possessing great ball-skills and crossing.
The best left back that I have ever seen has enjoyed a professional career of twenty-four years at one club. A rare thing in the modern game, this one club man has also played 126 times for his country, scoring seven goals. This highly-decorated footballer is the Italian international Paulo Cesare Maldini.
Maldini is the perfect left back. Strong in the tackle, a team leader and example to the rest of his team, as well as dangerous when going forward. Maldini is also highly-professional and committed, to which his collection of achievements and awards suggest.
Paolo Maldini has appeared in eight UEFA Champions League Finals, winning on five occasions from 1988 to 2007. He has also picked up seven Serie A league titles, five UEFA Super Cup wins and five Supercoppa Italiana medals. Despite his amazing club career, he didn’t win any major international tournaments as he had retired when Italy won the FIFA World Cup in 2006.
Maldini is a shining example of professionalism and commitment in the competitive modern game of soccer. Another left back that exemplifies hard-work and determination is the Brazilian international Roberto Carlos. The little Brazilian has appeared in three FIFA World Cups, finishing runner-up in 1998 and winning the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea.
Playing for five clubs in his career, most notably Real Madrid, Roberto Carlos is well-known for his powerful forward runs and thunderous shot. From the position of left-back, he scored 46 goals in 370 Madrid appearances as well as creating many more goals with his pace and quality crossing.
Roberto Carlos scored one of the greatest free-kicks ever when his curling, swerving shot defied logic and found its way into the net against France on June 3, 1997. The famous strike was televised and showed a ball-boy ten yards wide of the goal ducking for cover, the ball swerved so much.
As well as his FIFA World Cup win and runner-up medals, Carlos won four La Liga titles, three UEFA Champions League wins as well as two Brazilian League titles. Carlos still plays professionally in Turkey, at the age of thirty-five, although he retired from international duty in 2006.
There are many other great left backs in the world that possess either strong defensive capabilities or great attacking skills. One of the best at combining the both is England and Chelsea full-back, Ashley Cole. Despite being relatively young, Cole has built a reputation as a great defender with solid performances for club and country.
Cole began his career at Arsenal, with a loan spell at Crystal Palace, winning two FA Premier League titles and three FA Cups. His transfer to Chelsea was clouded in controversy as he was involved in an inappropriate meeting with Chelsea officials while still an Arsenal player. He was fined 100,000 pounds, and his reputation damaged as well as joining a team that had won two previous league titles only to not win a title in his first two seasons.
Cole relies on pace and aggression and his forward runs are the perfect example of the modern-day left back. His performances have enabled him to cement his position as England international first-choice left back with 67 caps, despite strong competition from club teammate Wayne Bridge.
Cole and Carlos are both prime examples of great forward-thinking left backs, while Maldini combines both the traditional defensive role as well as being a danger in the opponent’s penalty area. These three great left backs have taken the role and set the highest possible standards for future generations to emulate.
Source by Patrick Omari