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Jan 28, 2011

The FA Cup's Greatest Defenders

ESPNsoccernet will be taking you through the season with a series of FA Cup features detailing the highlights of the competition's long and proud history. Here, we look at those defenders who have left their mark on the competition.

• Vote for your FA Cup all-time best XI
• FA Cup's Greatest Controversies
• FA Cup's Greatest Goalkeepers
• FA Cup memories
• Jon Champion: A heavyweight round
• FA Cup LIVE on ESPN

Ashley Cole (Arsenal and Chelsea)

While he may not be the most well-liked defender in the game, Cole is the most successful player in the FA Cup's history having won the competition six times during his career thus far. He has Arsenal to thank for his development, as he was given his chance to shine as a young player under Arsene Wenger and won three of his cups there, but a move to Chelsea in 2006 saw him pick up the trophy three times in four years to set a new all-time record. Cole has played in seven Cup finals with Chelsea and Arsenal and has now overtaken the three men who won the trophy five times in the 19th century - Charles Wollaston (The Wanderers), Arthur Kinnaird (The Wanderers/Old Etonians) and James Forrest (Blackburn).

Ron Harris (Chelsea)

The defender known as 'Chopper' for his aggressive tackling made an astonishing 795 appearances for Chelsea between 1961 and 1980 and was the youngest Cup final captain, aged 22, as an FA Cup runner-up in 1967 before lifting the trophy in 1970. In an extremely physical final with Leeds, Harris was in his element and played a part in the quick free-kick that saw Ian Hutchinson score a late goal to save a replay. For the return game, he was given the job of marking Leeds' Eddie Gray, switching to full-back, and his crunching tackles on the winger limited Leeds' attacking ambitions and saw Chelsea home with a 2-1 win after extra-time.

Gary Pallister (Manchester United)

Three FA Cups wins in six years while at Manchester United made Pallister a legend in the competition. Having joined the club from Middlesbrough in 1989 to become Britain's most expensive defender at £2.3 million, he initially struggled to impress but won the 1990 FA Cup in his first season after a 1-0 replay win against Crystal Palace. Forming one of the best defensive partnerships in the game with Steve Bruce, Pallister's crowning moment in the competition came in 1995 as he scored an extra-time equaliser to force a replay in the semi-final against Palace; and then got on the scoresheet again in the return game to seal United's progress to the final.

Kevin Ratcliffe (Everton)

Having spent two years in and out of the Everton team, when he also handed in a transfer request, Ratcliffe rose to captain the side in 1982 and became the youngest captain since Bobby Moore (23 years previously) to lift the famous trophy in 1984 when the Toffees beat Watford 2-0. The defender's rise to fame happened almost as quickly as one of his famous bursts of speed and saw him lead the side into their most successful period - winning the European Cup-Winners' Cup, two League titles and progressing to two more FA Cup finals.

Tony Adams (Arsenal)

Fighting many demons throughout his career, Adams' impact on the FA Cup was huge as he picked up the trophy three times during his 22-year association with Arsenal. George Graham called him "my colossus"; Arsene Wenger described him as a "professor of defence" and, in 1992-93, Adams was the captain of the first English side to win the League Cup and FA Cup double and scored the goal that took them to the final. The Premier League and FA Cup Double came in 1998 and he bowed out of the game with another in 2002 with his penultimate game being the 2-0 FA Cup final win over Chelsea.

Jack Charlton (Leeds)

A veteran of over 600 appearances for Leeds, Charlton picked up every domestic honour with the club. His part in England's 1966 World Cup win was undoubtably the highlight of his career, but with Leeds he overcame the disappointment of losing the FA Cup finals in 1965 to Liverpool and to Chelsea in 1970 after his error allowed David Webb to net the winner to pick up the trophy in 1972 with a 1-0 win over Arsenal. However, the FA Cup would play its part in his eventual retirement from the game, as he was unable to recover from an injury sustained against Wolves in the semi-finals a year later.

Frank McLintock (Leicester, Arsenal and QPR)

First appearing in England with Leicester City in 1957, the Scot spent seven years at Filbert Street and reached two FA Cup finals in 1961 and 1963 in an ultimately losing cause. Moving from midfielder to defender when he joined Arsenal, he again struggled at Wembley, losing the League Cup finals of 1968 and 1969, but turned his luck around as he led the side to their first League and Cup Double in 1971 and also picked up the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year. Another Wembley FA Cup final defeat came in 1972, to Leeds, but he remains one of the most respected players in the history of the game.

Bobby Moore (West Ham)

Arguably England's finest ever defender, Moore's heroics in 1966 for England made him a legend of the game, but his 544 games for West Ham ensured that he made an impact at club level as well. In 1964, he was awarded the England captaincy, but also picked up his only FA Cup trophy as the Hammers beat Preston 3-2 thanks to a last-gasp goal from Ronnie Boyce. Named the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year that year, Moore went on to play for Fulham and took them to the FA Cup final in 1975 which, ironically, they lost 2-0 to West Ham.

Steve Perryman (Tottenham)

Having played over 850 matches in all competitions, Perryman is the most loyal player in the club's history, and also holds the record for most appearances in the league, FA Cup, League Cup and Europe. Initially a midfielder, he converted to defence and rose to captain the side in 1975, leading them to win back-to-back FA Cup trophies in 1981 and 1982. He picked up the Football Writers' Player of the Year award in 1982 and is viewed as one of the finest players in Spurs' history.

Gary Mabbutt (Tottenham)

His 16-year spell at Tottenham Hotspur, where he played from 1982 until 1998, saw Mabbutt reach the FA Cup final twice and both were eventful games. The defender scored Spurs' second goal to give them the lead in 1987 against Coventry, but then netted an own goal after the Sky Blues had equalised, to gift Coventry a 3-2 win in extra-time. Four years later, he would return to Wembley to captain Spurs to a 2-1 extra-time win over Nottingham Forest and played a part in causing Forest's Des Walker to put through his own net for the winner.

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