‘What a competitor!’ – Alan Shearer names Tony Adams as Premier League’s greatest centre-back and best he faced

Adams is an iconic figure in Arsenal's history
Adams is an iconic figure in Arsenal’s history (Picture: Getty Images)

Alan Shearer has named Arsenal legend Tony Adams as the greatest centre-back to have played in the Premier League, ahead of the likes of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.

The former Gunners captain spent the entirety of his career at the north London club, winning four league titles, three FA Cups and two League Cups.

Adams, famed for his no-nonsense approach and inspirational leadership qualities, remains the only player in the history of English football to have captained a team to top-flight titles in three different decades.

Terry comes in second for Shearer
Terry comes in second for Shearer (Picture: Getty Images)

And when ranking the Premier League’s best ever centre-backs for the BBC Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast, Shearer, the division’s all-time top scorer on 260 goals, named Adams as his top pick.

‘I would come off with cut eyes, a broken nose and cut lip after a game against him, but always shake hands,’ Shearer said of the Arsenal legend.

‘Not as good as Ferdinand at spraying the ball around but what a competitor.

‘He was the best centre-half I’ve played against I think, in that era in terms of how aggressive you could be as a centre-half.

‘He played in that back four that was unbelievable and had a great goalkeeper behind him.

‘He was an unbelievable leader, organiser, tackler, he could play as well, he was tough. The best centre-half I’ve ever played against.’

In second place, Shearer chose Chelsea icon Terry, who won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups, two League Cups, a Champions League and a Europa League over an illustrious 18-year spell at Stamford Bridge.

‘The number of times we’ve sat and discussed [Virgil] van Dijk’s diagonal balls into the forwards at Liverpool [is huge], but Terry could do that with either foot, he could play in the modern game no problem,’ the former Newcastle, Blackburn and Southampton striker added.

Manchester United legend Ferdinand, a winner of multiple major honours including an incredible six Premier League titles and the Champions League, came in at third place for Shearer.

‘A Rolls Royce of a centre-half – elegant, could bring the ball out with pace, could start the move, could stop the move, clever, could read the game,’ Shearer said of Ferdinand.

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is the only current player on Shearer’s list, while Vincent Kompany, Nemanja Vidic, Marcel Desailly, Jaap Stam, Gary Pallister and Ricardo Carvalho make up the rest of his top 10.

Shearer's top 10

10: Ricardo Carvalho

9: Gary Pallister

8: Jaap Stam

7: Marcel Desailly

6: Nemanja Vidic

5: Vincent Kompany

4: Virgil van Dijk

3: Rio Ferdinand

2: John Terry

1: Tony Adams

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