The Best Tottenham Central Defenders You’ve Seen Playing – Team Selection


HotspurHQ’s Team Selection is trying to select a Tottenham team composed of the best players seen by fans since the 1950s. The goalkeeper and full-backs have been selected, now it’s time to find the best central defenders.

Ledley King [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Over the years Tottenham have had many outstanding central defenders and central defensive partnerships. A list of 12 central defenders has been selected for your consideration but if your favoured choice is not on the list, add his name in the comments box at the end of the article. To be selected the defenders should have made over 100 appearances for Tottenham, although, once again, two players who have less than that figure have been included.

12 Tottenham Central Defenders for your consideration.

Harry Clarke was the centre-half in the 1951 title winning team. He played for Spurs from 1949, making his debut in March of that year. He was a regular for the next 7 seasons, until retiring in December, 1956. He made over 300 appearances and was a powerful defender who was dominant in the air. He made one England appearance but was an important member of Arthur Rowe’s ‘Push and Run’ team which won 2nd and 1st Division titles in successive seasons.

Maurice Norman joined Tottenham from Norwich in the mid-1950s as a full-back. Converted to a centre half he missed only one game in the ‘Double’ season and was a regular throughout the successful years of the early 60s. Selected for England he was always a threat at corners and free-kicks scoring some important goals. In 1965-66 he reverted to full-back but his career ended when he suffered a serious leg break in a friendly in November, 1965.

Mike England signed for Spurs from Blackburn Rovers at the start of the 1966-67 season and the following May they won the FA Cup. He proved to be the missing link in the Tottenham defence and with his strength he enjoyed great success at Tottenham through to the mid-1970s. A Welsh international, Mike England was a forceful presence for Spurs.

Phil Beal came through the Tottenham ranks in the early 1960s. By the middle of the decade he had worked his way into the team at full-back but a broken arm caused him to drop out of the team which went on to win the FA Cup in 1967. Joe Kinnear held that position so when Beal returned it was in central defence alongside Mike England. Through time they developed a strong partnership and Beal was unfortunate to be playing in the era of Bobby Moore and so was denied an opportunity to represent his country. At the centre of the Spurs defence through the early 1970s Beal’s contribution to the Tottenham success of that period is sometimes overlooked.

Graham Roberts came to Tottenham from non-League football but his totally committed style brought him into the team at the start of the 1980s. He played in central defence but also was a forceful, combative midfielder. He was a regular in the Cup winning teams of the 1980s and had a great partnership with Paul Miller.

Paul Miller was another who came through the Spurs youth teams but always seemed to be the central defender Spurs were trying to replace when new defenders were signed. Miller, however, out-lasted many of them and was in the teams which won three trophies in the 1980s and scored the goal in the 1st leg of the UEFA Cup Final against Anderlecht.

Richard Gough was made to play for Tottenham – a footballing central defender – but unfortunately he only remained at White Hart Lane for a little over a season. Signed from Dundee United in the summer of 1986, he moved back to Scotland in September,1987. He captained David Pleat’s Spurs team which came so close to winning all three competitions but ended up with nothing.

Gary Mabbutt in 1991 FA Cup Final [Photo: Logan Holmes]Gary Mabbutt  gave loyal service to Spurs first in midfield and then in central defence. He was Gough’s defensive partner in the 1987 FA Cup Final defeat but led Spurs to their last FA Cup success in 1991. He continued to play for Spurs until 1998 overcoming his own health issues as well as recovering from a serious facial injury and then a broken leg in August, 1996 which caused him to miss the rest of that season. He now fulfills an ambassadorial role for Tottenham.

Sol Campbell was one of Tottenham’s best central defenders. He came through the Spurs youth system to be a regular and captained the side to the 1999 Worthington Cup success. He represented England but his decision to run down his contract and sign for Arsenal on a free in July, 2001 greatly soured his relationship with all Tottenham fans.

Ledley King stepped in when Campbell left and another product of the Spurs youth system he was loyal to Spurs until recurring injury problems caused him to retire last summer. An amazing player who was the cornerstone of Tottenham’s defence, he rarely gave a poor display and was captain when Spurs defeated Chelsea in the 2008 Carling Cup Final. The players around him performed so much better with him in the team as he quietly got on with his role. If he had been fully fit and not hindered by injury, he would have been one of the world’s best defenders.

Michael Dawson always gives 100% effort when playing for Tottenham. He is a fearless and totally committed central defender who displayed great loyalty to the club when it looked as if he would be leaving last summer. He accepted the situation of being fifth choice but through sheer determination, fought his way back into contention and finished the season playing regularly and as captain leading the team by example.

Jan Vertonghen has only had one season at Tottenham but showed that he was an ideal replacement for the retired Ledley King. A footballing defender who is comfortable playing the ball out from the back, he had a very impressive first season at White Hart Lane.

My choice of central defenders is very difficult to make as there are so many to choose from. From my early years of supporting Spurs, Mike England was always such a forceful figure in the centre of the defence. Richard Gough was an ideal player for Tottenham but his stay was too brief while more recently Gary Mabbutt and Ledley King were great servants to the club. Jan Vertonghen is an outstanding player and hopefully will show his class for years to come. My selection – Mike England and Ledley King.

From the central defenders listed, please select the best two who you have seen playing. If there is anyone you think should have been on the list, please add his name in the comments at the end of the page and also let me know your views on Tottenham’s central defenders over the years.

Vote on HotspurHQ’s Team Selection Poll: (Select 2)