The list of truly top-level players that have plied their trade in the Premier League since it officially came into being in 1992-93 is impressive indeed, and that list only continues to grow given the vast amounts of wealth that steadily flows into the top flight of English football.
Though there are many greats of the beautiful game that have never crossed the channel and preferred the likes of La Liga, Serie A, and the Bundesliga over what England has to offer, those that found their footing either as foreign imports or homegrown talents that perfected their craft in front of goal will always be remembered fondly by life-long supporters and neutral fans alike.
Here is the surprising top-ten list of goalscoring defenders in Premier League history (please note that in the interest of fairness, Ashley Young has not been included given the majority of his appearances have not come in defence).
Note: all information and data via premierleague.com
9 | Antonio Valencia (Wigan, Manchester United); 24
Antonio Valencia was a tricky one to deliberate on. Much like Ashley Young, who did not feature on this list given how much time he spent plying his trade as a winger or in midfield, Valencia too featured prominently as an attacking option both for Wigan and Manchester United. But the fact that he is most notably remembered as a wing-back/full-back is the reason why he gets the nod. Half of his goals came in his first four seasons in the Premier League while playing as a winger, but his attacking influence did not diminish when he was deployed deeper. He is certainly deserving of his place.
9 | Kieran Richardson (Manchester United, West Brom, Sunderland, Fulham, Aston Villa); 24
This one came as probably the biggest surprise considering Kieran Richardson never truly cut out a pathway for himself at Manchester United, but his time at Sunderland comes with fond memories and a fairly credible goal return at the Stadium of Light that featured fifteen of his 24-total goals across his Premier League career. It is a sneakily quiet goal tally for a player who never captured headlines but performed admirably for the Black Cats especially.
9 | Julian Dicks (Liverpool, West Ham); 24
Julian Dicks made a name for himself at West Ham before the official formation of the Premier League but his first season of the PL era came in a Liverpool kit for one season (1993-94) before returning to the Hammers for a second stint with the London outfit that reaffirmed his status in club lore. His 260-appearances for the Hammers saw him score 50-goals, 21 of which came in the PL era and totalling the bulk of his overall goal return. He bagged 16-goals in his final two full seasons for West Ham, including a 10-goal haul in the 1995-96 campaign that is as impressive as anyone on this list.
8 | William Gallas (Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham); 25
William Gallas committed one cardinal sin after another during a Premier League career that saw him feature for a trio of bitter London rivals Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham. But overall, his spell in the English capital was relatively successful and he certainly was not afraid to chip in with a goal or two regardless of whichever club he was currently at. Though he won't be remembered fondly at Spurs, and arguably Arsenal as well, his legacy at Chelsea is an impressive one.
7 | Steve Watson (Newcastle, Aston Villa, Everton, West Brom); 26
It is so often an interesting reminder of the true size of a club like Newcastle when you see how many Premier League greats the Magpies can boast as former servants on Tyneside, and Steve Watson is another one to add to the list. He did also contribute heavily while plying his trade at Everton and Aston Villa, but Watson and his credible goal return as a defender were a mainstay in the northeast of England.
5 | Ian Harte (Leeds, Sunderland, Reading); 28
The return of Leeds United to the Premier League was one of the biggest stories across the top flight of English football last season after Marcelo Bielsa guided the Elland Road outfit to a top-half finish. It was a portal into yesteryear when Leeds were one of the top sides in the land as early as the 1993 season when they finished fifth, but it was during the late '90s and early 2000s where Leeds were not only one of the best sides in the country, but all of Europe, and Ian Harte played a key role in that. Through hard-nosed defending and a brilliant dead ball speciality, Harte scored quite a few bangers in his day and his 28-goals should surprise no one.
5 | Gary Cahill (Aston Villa, Bolton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace); 28
Before becoming a key centre-back at Chelsea, Gary Cahill made his name long before during stints with Aston Villa but more importantly Bolton Wanderers. A feared entity in the air both at the defensive end and also a dangerous set-piece adversary in the offensive third of the pitch, Cahill scored quite a few headers in his day including during the 2016-17 season where he bagged 6-goals for the Blues; a very credible return for a central defender. It should not be surprising to remember that he so nearly hit the 30-goal plateau.
4 | Leighton Baines (Wigan, Everton); 32
Though he began his Premier League adventure at Wigan to a credible level, Leighton Baines has become synonymous with Everton across a stint on the blue half of Merseyside that has been one of the more influential of any defender in the history of the league. Through long periods as one of the premier left-backs in England, Baines was as good a defender as he was a vaunted attacking threat. His effectiveness on set-pieces remains storied for a reason.
3 | Ian Marshall (Oldham, Ipswich Town, Leicester City, Bolton); 33
411-appearances across 18-seasons is as credible a career as any and Ian Marshall - a name that many Premier League supporters will be unable to recollect through no fault of their own - certainly is remembered fondly at Oldham, Ipswich, and Leicester City. Though he did feature as a centre-forward at times across his career, Marshall is perhaps one of the more forgotten defenders in league history that holds an influential place in certain parts of the country.
2 | David Unsworth (Everton, West Ham, Portsmouth, Sheffield United, Wigan); 38
Most fondly remembered for a storied two-stint career at Everton, David Unsworth made nearly 450-appearances across a career that featured fifteen Premier League seasons and was an undisputed first-choice defender at Goodison Park as well as other outposts across England. His 38-goals may have surprised quite a few fans, especially younger supporters that did not watch him during his pomp, but his 20-goals from 1999-2003 are a testament to just how good he was at both ends of the pitch.
1 | John Terry (Chelsea); 41
Despite the controversy that potentially tarnishes his legacy, John Terry is arguably the best defender of the Premier League era and certainly stacks up against other top names the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidić, Sol Campbell, Tony Adams, and Vincent Kompany. Apart from the fifteen major honors that he helped Chelsea secure, Terry also scored over 41-goals in the league in nearly 500-appearances for the Stamford Bridge outfit. It is perhaps befitting that arguably the best defender in the history of the league also tops the goal chart.