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Six wingers who were converted to full-backs

Wednesday 24th August 2016
In the game of football, full-backs are required to be able to hurtle up and down the flanks, assisting the center halves in curbing opposition attacks and also join in the attack as often as necessary. This is why quite a few full-backs were one-time attacking wingers who were later converted to defenders.

We take a look at some full-backs who have successfully made the transition from being attacking wingers to being full-backs.

Antonio Valencia

The 31-year-old right full-back is the first on our list. It was always clear from the outset that Antonio Valencia would do well as a full back. The Ecuadorian is renowned for being a powerful right winger. However, it all changed since the coming of Louis van Gaal. The Dutch tactician felt that Valencia could be of more service further down the pitch as a full-back due to his immense strength and good attacking skill. It paid off for Valencia; he has since cemented his place in Manchester United's starting XI and looks to be playing his best football for the club.

Recently, teammate Ander Herrera is quoted as saying: “I think Antonio is one of the best right-backs in the world.”

You don't remember anyone saying that of him as a winger, do you?

Jordi Alba

The exciting Catalan was a Barcelona youth attacking prodigy for many years, but he never had the opportunity of breaking into Barca senior squad, he later moved to Valencia via Cornella. It was at Valencia that he would be converted from a winger to a left full-back by then Valencia boss, Unai Emery.

It proved to be a masterstroke. Barcelona soon realized what they were missing out on, and swiftly brought back Alba to Catalonia, this time as a full-back. Jordi Alba has grown to become one of the best left-backs in world football.

Héctor Bellerin

Bellerin is another footballer who has successfully made the switch from an attacking winger to a defender. Starting out a right winger in the Barcelona youth set up, Bellerin was known for being the fastest winger in the Barcelona youth team. After his move to Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, sort to deploy that pace from a defensive position and Bellerin was converted to a right-back.

In the years that followed, Hector Bellerin has been an outstanding full-back for Arsenal, drawing a comparison to the likes of Dani Alves and Pablo Zabaleta.

David Alaba

Alaba is another player who made a smooth transition from being an attacking winger to becoming a renowned left full-back. The young Austrian is the youngest player ever to feature in Bayern Munich's first team, making a first team appearance aged just 17. He was deployed to left wing position. However, then Bayern head coach, Jupp Heynckes, sensing that the youngster might find himself eclipsed under too much of a competition from the likes of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, decided to deploy the midfielder as a left full-back.

Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra has not always been a full-back. He started out as a left winger but failed to impress in that position. After he transferred from Nice to Monaco in 2002, he was smoothly converted by Didier Deschamps from a winger to a left full-back. That switch greatly helped Evra's career. He became a regular in the Monaco side that reached the 2004 UEFA champions league final.

Evra transferred to Manchester United from Monaco in 2006 and etched his name as one of the club's most successful defenders.

Branislav Ivanovic

This big Serbian defender started his career as a winger and a striker. After his move to Lokomotiv Moscow, he was converted to a center half where he proved to be successful. He later moved to Chelsea in 2008 where his role would once again be changed by Carlo Ancelotti in 2010, from a center half to a right full-back. He was so successful in the position he was named in the PFA team of the season in 2010.

Since then, Ivanovic has remained a right full-back at Chelsea. He is occasionally used a makeshift center half.
Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.

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