Rio Ferdinand says "alien" player was the toughest he has ever faced
"He was a ridiculous footballer."
Alongside his former Red Devil's teammate Owen Hargreaves, the pair discussed their fiercest battles in Europe with MUTV.
When asked which player stood out as the best he's ever played against, Hargreaves picked one of the finest to ever lace up a pair of boots.
“I mean, there were so many amazing ones,” says Hargreaves. “I mean, my favourite was Zidane in a way. You know, I didn't realise how big he was until I played against him.
“As beautiful a player as he was, I was quicker than him so he couldn't really get away from me. But he knew that too. So, he would just dangle the ball and you think you can get it, and then he would just spin and pirouette away.
“I remember just looking at him in the game thinking: ‘My God’. He was just so graceful and he was so quiet on the pitch as well. He didn't really talk."
Ferdinand interjected, pointing out that the best players often didn't bother talking to their opponents.
“Do you know what I thought about the big players like that? They don't even acknowledge you, there's a little bit of arrogance and they can't even really see you. That's the way they are.
“Dennis Bergkamp was the same. I used to think that elite players, him and Zidane especially, I used to think 'they don't even know who I am, man [laughs].’”
The former United defender picked another Real Madrid star as his toughest opponent, the Brazilian Ronaldo, who was once the most feared striker on the planet.
It wasn't long until Ferdinand was asked if he remembers the Brazil star's famous hat-trick against United at Old Trafford back in 2003.
“Course I do. I played centre-back against him [laughs]. He’s another alien, he’s another alien!
“I know I always say this, but two of his goals, another goalkeeper saves it. Edwin [van der Sar] saves both of them. There's two goals in that game [that could be saved] I think, but you still can't discredit Ronaldo. He was a ridiculous footballer.
“Like Owen said before, there’s certain players where you say, ‘I'm a fan before anything’. There's only Ronaldo and Zidane, they were the two main ones in my career where I went, ‘I'm actually a fan, when I was growing up, I was looking at you.’”
When asked if he at least managed to swap jerseys with the goal machine at full time, Ferdinand was let down on that occasion.
“No, I didn't,” he says. “I couldn't get close enough!”
- Man United now in an injury crisis as more stars ruled out for"extended period"
- Four Man United stars "involved in furious bust-up" after Brighton defeat
- Rio Ferdinand tells Alex Ferguson story that ended Roy Keane's United career