Can defenders score in soccer?
Jul, 25 2023

Understanding the Role of Defenders in Soccer

When we talk about soccer, what often comes to mind are the strikers or the midfielders who create the magic with their goals and assists. However, there's another role in the team that is equally important - the defenders. The primary role of defenders in a soccer team is to prevent the opposition from scoring. They are the backbone of the team, the last line of defense before the goalkeeper.

But is that all that defenders do? Or can they also contribute to the team's attack and even score goals? In this article, we will explore the potential of defenders in scoring goals and how they can contribute to the team's offensive play.

The Evolution of the Defender's Role

The role of a defender in soccer has evolved significantly over the years. In the past, defenders were primarily tasked with blocking and tackling the opposition players to prevent them from scoring. However, in the modern game, defenders are expected to do much more. They are now an integral part of the team's offense as well, contributing to the build-up play and even scoring goals.

This change in role has been brought about by the evolution of soccer tactics and strategies. Teams now recognize the importance of having all players contribute to the attack, including defenders. This approach not only increases the team's goal-scoring chances but also adds an element of unpredictability to their play.

Defenders Turning Goal Scorers

Yes, defenders can score in soccer. In fact, there are many instances of defenders turning into prolific goal scorers for their teams. Some defenders have a knack for finding the back of the net, whether from set pieces, long-range efforts, or even from open play.

Take, for instance, the legendary Franz Beckenbauer, who was known for his goal-scoring prowess, or more recent examples like Sergio Ramos and Virgil van Dijk. These players have shown that being a defender doesn't necessarily mean staying behind. They have often stepped up to score crucial goals for their teams.

Set Pieces: A Defender's Best Friend

One of the most common ways for defenders to score in soccer is through set pieces. This includes corners, free-kicks, and penalties. Defenders, due to their height and physicality, are often tasked with heading the ball into the goal during corners and free-kicks.

Sergio Ramos, for instance, has scored numerous goals for Real Madrid and Spain from set pieces. His headers from corners and free-kicks have often been the difference between a win and a draw or even a loss.

Long Range Efforts

Another way defenders can score is through long-range efforts. Some defenders have a knack for shooting from distance. These goals are often spectacular and can change the course of a match.

There are several defenders known for their long-range shooting abilities. Brazilian Roberto Carlos, for instance, was famous for his powerful and accurate free-kicks. His goal from a free-kick against France in the 1997 Tournoi de France is still considered one of the best goals ever scored.

Scoring from Open Play

Defenders can also score from open play. This usually happens when they make a forward run and find themselves in a scoring position. Some defenders have a knack for making these runs and have often scored important goals for their teams.

One example of a defender who often scores from open play is Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold. His ability to join the attack and score has made him one of the most effective right-backs in the game today.

Important Goals by Defenders

Goals scored by defenders are often crucial. They can change the momentum of a game and can often be the difference between a win and a loss. Some of the most important goals in soccer history have been scored by defenders.

Think about the header by Germany's Andreas Brehme in the 1990 World Cup final, or the goal by Manchester United's Steve Bruce against Sheffield Wednesday in the 1992-93 Premier League season, which helped United win the title. These goals have shown that defenders can be match-winners too.


In conclusion, while the primary role of a defender in soccer is to prevent the opposition from scoring, they can also contribute to the team's attack and even score goals. Whether from set pieces, long-range efforts, or open play, defenders have shown time and again that they can be effective goal scorers. So, next time you watch a soccer match, keep an eye on the defenders. You never know when they might surprise you with a goal.