A sweeper in football is a position used by a defending player whose main role is to prevent the ball from getting close to the goalkeeper. This defensive player is also known as a libero and is considered a versatile center-back who sweeps up the ball if ever an opponent tries to enter the defensive line.

The position is said to be more fluid compared to other defensive positions because sweepers are free to defend his or her area without identifying a specific opponent.

Austrian manager Karl Rappan is considered a pioneer of the role, utilising it in the 1930s with Swiss club Servette.

Sweepers are always expected to have a good set of counter-attacking moves. This would mean that he or she have a high level of skill when it comes to passing and controlling the ball. These defensive skills are very helpful especially if the player moves into the midfield area and pushes the ball up-field while making enough time to go back into his or her position.

Though the sweeper plays a significant defensive role, there are teams that do not use it. There are also football formations that do not require the use of a sweeper and there are teams that have very skillful goalkeepers that can also play the role.

Top 5 Sweepers

Franz Beckenbauer is an on-field pioneer as a sweeper along with Bobby Moore, Franco Baresi, Ronald Koeman, Fernando Hierro, Miodrag Belodedici, Matthias Sammer, and Aldair

Some goalkeepers have developed their skills to be considered sweepers, given their positioning and passing ability. They include Alisson Becker, Ederson, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen as well as Lev Yashin and Manuel Neuer.

Top on the list is the famous Manuel Neuer. The Bayern Munich player is famous for popularising the role of the sweeper-keeper. He is also known for his jaw-dropping runs off the line to clear the ball off from the defensive line.