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Virgil van Dijk tells Rio Ferdinand his top five centre-backs in Premier League history

Virgil van Dijk is the among the finest centre-halves on the planet and he’s picked his top five defenders in Premier League history with Rio Ferdinand and John Terry among them

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Virgil van Dijk has named Rio Ferdinand as the greatest Premier League defender in an interview with the former Manchester United centre-half.

The Liverpool star is among the finest defenders to grace England’s top flight over the past 30 years.

His arrival at Anfield proved to be the catalyst for the club’s recent success and he’s been integral to their domestic and European success. He was pushed to select his top five players in his position – but opted against naming himself.

He said on Rio Ferdinand’s Between The Lines : “I can’t do it (put myself in), but I hopefully I’ll be in this top five one day.” Ferdinand came out on top in the eyes of the Dutchman, following his trophy-laden period at Old Trafford. As a youngster he rose to prominence at West Ham United and Leeds, breaking British transfer records.

Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany, who is a symbol of their success during the past decade, was named in second. The Belgian won the league at the Etihad under three different managers with his fourth title coming thanks to a iconic long range striker against Leicester City in May 2019.

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Van Dijk named his compatriot Jaap Stam in third. The Dutchman was part of United’s 1999 treble winning side having moved to Old Trafford as a relative unknown. He left the Red Devils in the early 2000s and went on to enjoy more success in Italy with Lazio and AC Milan.

John Terry and Sami Hyypia round out the top five. The Chelsea legend is arguably the club’s greatest ever player and remained a top performer for nearly two decades. Hyypia meanwhile is the only man not to win the title in Van Dijk’s top five, but the Dutchman claimed he was “underrated”.

Rio Ferdinand was a major signing for Man Utd back in 2002



Ferdinand commented on his decision to omit Tony Adams, to which the Liverpool star replied: “I can’t to be honest, I never saw him play. I’ve seen a few goals, when he scored the goal when they became champions. I know how big of a legend he is for Arsenal.”

Van Dijk’s top five Premier League centre-backs

1. Rio Ferdinand

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“I think you could play in the modern era, back in the say you were so important for that United team. all the England centre-backs looked up to you. I think you were an icon as a defender. Also, the way you played, the presence is a very important thing. Be good on the ball without the ball, you tackle a little bit more than I do.”

The Belgian is an iconic figure on the blue half of Manchester

2. Vincent Kompany

“Similar, a fantastic captain, good on the ball, good without the ball. Scored important goals during his City career. Scored a very important one against Leicester when we almost won the league. Great guy and he was outstanding.”

3. Jaap Stam

“I have to put my Dutchman in of course. For me, he was the man at the back. with the national team I always thought he would be 2.5 metres. It was his presence, his career in general has been outstanding. His time at United but also in Italy with Milan.”

4. John Terry

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“He achieved so much – I think he has the record for clean sheets. Also one of the centre-backs you look at for where you want to be as a youngster.”

5. Sami Hyypia

“I’m going to put Hyypia, you know why – because he’s a Liverpool legend. He was underrated in my opinion. Very good player, good on the ball. So important for the club and in an important period.”

Watch BT Sport’s exclusive coverage of the UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool v Real Madrid live from the Stade de France from 6pm on Saturday 28th May. For more info, visit

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