One of the most crucial positions in the game of soccer is an attacking left-back. Left backs are tasked with defending and attacking players from the left side of the field – hence the name left-backs.
In terms of their role, left-backs are expected to have skills like mental, physical, and technical ones.
Physically, left-backs are required to have speed, be fit, and be resilient to last an entirety of a game which is 90 minutes.
Mentally, left-backs should have a sixth sense of how the game will turn out and know when to attack a player and create goal-winning chances.
Lastly, left-backs should technically know when and how to defend, attack, and tackle players during a game.
The Premier League has been home to some of the greatest left-backs in the history of the game.
These players have made significant achievements and left a name behind for themself.
Who Are The Best Left-Backs?
- 385 appearances
- 15 goals
- 148 clean sheets
Ashley Cole is widely regarded as one of the best and greatest Premier League left-backs in the history of soccer. He had solid defensive skills and a knack for accurately positioning himself for the game.
As a left-back, he played mostly for Arsenal and Chelsea where he won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with Arsenal.
During his time with Chelsea, Ashley Cole won a Premier League title again, four FA Cups, the Europa League, in 2013, and the Champions League, in 2012.
- 278 appearances
- 7 goals
- 98 clean sheets
Patrice Evra’s speed, resilience, defense, and attacking skills made him a force on the left side of the field.
He played nine seasons with Manchester United where he won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, and a Champions League title in 2008.
He was a modern left back who played a role in Sir Alex Ferguson’s team, no wonder he made a name as one of the 10 best Premier League left-backs of all time.
Graeme Le Saux
- 327 appearances
- 12 goals
- 92 clean sheets
Majorly recognized for his notable contributions during his tenure at Chelsea, although it’s often overlooked that he played a crucial role in Blackburn’s triumph in the 1995 Premier League.
As one of the pioneering attacking left-backs of his time, he also achieved success with Chelsea, securing the 1998 Cup Winners Cup and a League Cup.
Le Saux’s exceptional performances led to his inclusion in the PFA team of the year on two occasions, and he earned 36 caps while representing England.
Unfortunately, despite being happily married, Le Saux faced unwarranted and hurtful abuse regarding his sexuality throughout his career.
- 328 appearances
- 18 goals
- 123 clean sheets
Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in 2013, “We always called him Eight Out of Ten Denis.
So quick and nimble: quick-brained. Never let you down. There was never any bad publicity with him.”
The nimble and quick-brained left-back emerged at Manchester United where he won seven Premier League titles, two FA Cups, the Champions League in 1999, and many others.
Irwin was a flawless left-back, although he sometimes played on the right flank of the field.
- 364appearances (Still Playing)
- 15 goals
- 76 clean sheets
Andrew Robertson is presently the sole active left-back among the players mentioned here, although others are emerging as strong contenders for inclusion in the future.
It’s worth noting that Ashley Young, who often played as a winger, holds a major number of Premier League assists for a defender as well.
Initially deemed “too small” to thrive in professional football, Robertson has defied expectations, amassing an impressive tally of 57 assists in the Premier League.
This achievement places him at the top of the list for assists made by any Premier League defender.
Following Hull City’s relegation, Robertson came close to joining Everton, but the club’s history of making ill-fated transfer decisions led them to decline the opportunity.
Consequently, he signed for Liverpool, initially as a backup option.
- 420 appearances
- 32 goals
- 113 clean sheets
Leighton Baines made a name for himself as one of the 10 best Premier League left back of all time during his stay at Everton.
Leighton Baines dedicated the majority of his professional career to Everton, a club that faced challenges in winning major trophies. Despite this, he earned runners-up medals in the FA Cup and League Cup.
While at Everton, Baines was recognized for his contributions by being included in the “PFA Team of the year” on two occasions. He was a dependable defender and represented England in 30 international matches.
His remarkable record of 32 goals and 53 assists, the highest among the players mentioned, serves as a fact to his incredible ability to place the ball precisely, even in the most demanding situations.
- 202 appearances
- 20 goals
- 52 clean sheets
Popularly called “Psycho”, this left back is a tough and resilient one to have graced the Premier League.
The name Psycho is characterized by his style of attacking, tackling, and defending ability.
Stuart Pearce may not have represented the biggest clubs, but his prowess as a classic, defensively-oriented left-back was unquestionable.
His exceptional abilities were evident in the fact that he was honored with a place in the “PFA team of the year” on five separate occasions, and he proudly accumulated 78 caps while representing England.
The initial phase of Pearce’s career took place prior to the establishment of the Premier League in 1992.
Throughout his career, he amassed over 500 league appearances, securing two League Cup victories during his time at Nottingham Forest.
- 352 appearances
- 5 goals
- 119 clean sheets
Winterburn’s journey stands out for two significant reasons: firstly, he was a key member of Wimbledon’s spirited “crazy gang” that achieved remarkable success while climbing up the divisions.
Also, he served as the left-back in Arsenal’s renowned defensive lineup during the 1990s, contributing to the club’s triumphs of three league titles, two FA Cups, a League Cup, and the 1994 Cup Winners Cup.
Winterburn dedicated an impressive 13 years to Arsenal, where he seamlessly transitioned into an attacking left-back following the arrival of manager Arsène Wenger in 1996.
Despite being 33 years old at the time, he displayed exceptional stamina and excelled in his newfound role.
After retiring from professional football in 2003, Winterburn continued his involvement in the sport as a football pundit.
John Arne Riise
- 321 appearances
- 21 goals
- 99 clean sheets
He gained recognition for his impressive seven-year stint at Liverpool, during which he secured notable achievements such as winning an FA Cup, a League Cup, and the 2005 Champions League.
He proudly holds the record for the most appearances for the Norwegian national team, having represented his country in 110 matches.
Riise, a modern-style left-back, possessed a remarkable knack for scoring goals.
This required immense stamina, although at times he was deployed as a midfielder to alleviate some of his defensive responsibilities.
Known for his powerful shot, Riise netted several extraordinary goals throughout his career.
In 2017, he made the decision to retire from professional football and has since ventured into the field of management, seeking to test his skills in this new role.
- 239 appearances (Still playing)
- 3 goals
- 40 clean sheets
Luke Shaw has the potential to climb higher in the rankings of top left-backs as the years go by, establishing himself as one of the best in the modern era.
Shaw kickstarted his professional journey at Southampton, showcasing consistent and outstanding displays that quickly attracted interest from larger clubs.
In 2014, Manchester United secured Shaw’s signature, breaking the record for the highest transfer fee ever paid for a teenager in the history of soccer at that time.
The English player faced immense pressure and expectations, carrying the burden of this hefty transfer fee and numerous other challenges on his shoulders.
Other Notable Best Premier League Left-Backs In History
- Celestine Babayaro
- Gael Clichy
- Wayne Bridge
- Oleksandr Zinchenko
- Pervis Estupinan