Can Defenders Score in Soccer? (Explained in Details)

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Defenders do more than just secure the goalpost and prevent the opposing team from scoring.

Maybe you think that all they do is prevent forwards from getting close to their target. They do more than just that! 

But the important question is, can defenders score in soccer? And the answer is definitely! There are no football laws that restrict defensive players from scoring.

You must have seen matches where defenders score goals late in the game and win matches for the team.

This same situation applies to players in other positions. However, the defender’s position is tricky, so scoring a goal is hard from that position. 

As we go further, I will tell you more about how a defender can score in soccer and about the best defenders with good scoring stats.  

Can a Defender Score in Soccer?

Of course, a defender can score in soccer. Defenders usually have a poor scoring stat because they don’t play near the opposition goal.

Only a few defenders overlap and join in creating chances for the team. 

Such players are known as ball-playing defenders. The Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos is a good example.

Even though Roberto Carlos occupied the left-back position, you’d find him in the front of the pitch whenever his team won the ball. 

He occupied the left wing and made room for the left winger to stay in the box. That move enabled the team to create more chances, scoring more goals. 

Roberto Carlos was also a free-kick specialist. He scored by shooting powerful shots that moved very fast. 

Even though some goalkeepers easily predicted the direction of Roberto Carlos’s free kicks, the ball entered the net before the goalie was able to react. 

Being in The Right Position is Key

Teams with good, technical midfielders create many goal-scoring opportunities in a game.

While some create chances from set pieces, others create them from open play. 

In most cases, you’ll find the striker in scoring positions. Since the main role of a striker is to score goals, the assumption is reasonable. 

Even though strikers lead the attack, you can’t expect them to score all the goals for a team.

Midfielders and defenders can also score when they get the chance. All that matters is their positioning. 

It’s Harder for a Defender to Score

Even though defenders can score goals, you rarely find them doing so. Defenders play far from the opposition’s net, making it hard for them to score if no opportunities are created.

While attacking teams play with three defenders, teams that fancy parking the bus play with five.

However, if you’re a team that wants to strike a balance between attacking and defending, it’s best to play with four defenders. 

Even though the role of defenders is to stop opposition players from scoring, they carry out their tasks in different ways.

How a ball-playing defender plays is different from how a sweeper plays. 

While ball-playing defenders join the attack, sweepers stay at the back of the defense throughout the game.

The only downside of sweepers is that they can go a whole season without scoring for their team.  

Situations Where You Are Most Likely to See a Defender Score

Even though defenders stay in their positions most often, they can join the attack when the team wins a corner.

Tall defenders can score headers from corners, giving them an advantage. 

Defenders known for doing that include Sergio Ramos, Van Dijk, Harry Maguire, and many more. 

If your team loses by a single goal, you usually risk anything to score. At that moment, your position doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting the ball into the back of the net as fast as possible. 

You can also score when you play for a team that dominates possession.

For instance, Man City defenders score because they dominate their opposition, which means their defenders are not under pressure to stay at the back. 

As I stated earlier, you can also score if you’re good at playing set pieces or penalties. Defenders who are first-choice penalty-takers have a decent goalscoring record. 

Some Defenders Have an Advantage When It Comes to Scoring

As a defender, your work is to stop the opposition attackers from scoring. To stop fast and strong attackers, you must have strength. 

You should hit the gym and build muscle to become a world-class defender. Stopping attackers like Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic requires high strength. 

The interesting thing is that your strength won’t only be useful as a defender; you can also use it to improve your attacking skills.

More strength means that you can compete for the ball in the opposition’s box, use your muscular body to protect it and shoot the ball. 

You can also use your height to win aerial duels and score fantastic headers like Sergio Ramos. I recommend you start doing it early in your career to improve. 

The 5 Highest Scoring Defenders in Soccer

Here are the top 5 highest scoring defenders in soccer and their impressive goal-scoring records. Explore their unique playing styles and contributions to the game.

1. Ronald Koeman (253 goals)

With 253 goals to his name, no defender has scored as much as Ronald Koeman in football history.

The former player free-kicked well and scored them for club and country regularly. 

Almost all his career goals were from penalties and free kicks. At the peak of his career, Ronald Koeman found the back of the net 26 times in a single season. He was the best player in PSV that year. 

It shouldn’t be surprising that Ronald Koeman once played for Barcelona.

In the history of this club, no defender has scored as much as him, with a total of 90 goals for Barcelona. 

Ronaldo Koeman wasn’t only good at taking set pieces, he was a top-class defender as well. You wouldn’t find an average player in Barcelona’s starting XI in those days. 

2. Daniel Passarella (175 goals)

Daniel Passarella is considered one of the greatest defenders of all time. In 451 games, he found the back of the net 134 times. He scored various goals, including setpieces, penalties, and open-play goals. 

Even though he was short, he had an incredible jump power. He could jump higher than most defenders and use his head to direct the ball into the net. 

Daniel Passarella had a successful career in which he won two FIFA World Cups. He was also the Argentina national team captain when the team won the World Cup in 1986. 

Daniel Passarella inspired all young defenders, and I want you to aim to be like him. He also proved to everyone in soccer that short defenders can be world-class soccer players. 

No matter your height, you can be a great defender. All you have to do is work hard. 

3. Fernando Hierro (163 goals)

Fernando Hierro was a Spanish defender who dominated the defense during his time.

Attackers rarely got past him. He was also a good free-kick and penalty-taker and scored many goals from heading. 

At some point in his career, he captained the Spanish national team and Real Madrid. You could tell how trustworthy he must have been to be named the captain of those two historic teams. 

Due to the technical abilities of Fernando Hierro, he was used as a defensive midfielder in some games. He had a passing range similar to Paul Pogba in that he could easily make short and long passes. 

Positioning was another one of his attributes. While he was playing as a defender for Real Madrid, you could hardly catch him on the counter. 

He studied the opposition attackers and put himself in a good position to retrieve the ball whenever they were in possession. 

4. Laurent Blanc (153 goals)

Laurent Black is a French defender who started his professional career in the attacking midfield position. After analyzing his qualities, he discovered he was better as a defender and made the switch. 

Due to his time as an attacking midfielder, he retained a passion for scoring goals. He was a free-kick specialist and was never disappointed whenever he played for the France national team. 

He scored 16 goals for France and 137 for the clubs he represented. His height made it easy for him to win aerial duels in tight situations, which is why he was a threat in the opposition box. 

Since Laurent Blanc, I have not seen a player with a similar playing style.  It would greatly benefit the soccer community if you learned to play like him. 

5. raham Alexander (130 goals)

Even though Graham Alexander played as a defender, he was the main penalty-taker in all the clubs he represented. His penalty conversion rate was high, so he scored 130 goals. 

Graham Alexander’s proficiency in scoring is not limited to penalties. He scored many goals from open play as well. He was the perfect ball-playing defender who moved high up the pitch whenever his team had the ball. 

The surprising thing about Graham Alexander is that he never found the back of the net while playing for his country, Scotland. All his goals were scored at the club level. 

Graham Alexander wasn’t only known for his defensive abilities, he was a leader on the pitch as well. Every team has a player that organizes the defensive structure and keeps it in shape. 

Even as a defender, Alexander showed that you can be the player who guides and motivates the team to victory. 


Can defenders score in soccer? Definitely, they can. Like attackers and midfielders, defenders can score goals in soccer. They don’t score as much as attackers because of their position. 

Defenders must keep the defensive shape and stay at the back to avoid counter-attacks from the opposition team. 

If you’re willing to get on the scoresheet as a defender, strive to head the ball when your team plays a corner and improve how you play set pieces. Work hard, and the sky is just your starting point.

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