Robert Pires names Man Utd and Chelsea heroes as his ‘toughest’ opponents

Former Marseille player Robert Pires during the Ligue 1 match between Olympique Marseille and Paris Saint Germain on October 28, 2018 in Marseille, France.
Pires (Picture: Icon Sport via Getty)

Robert Pires played against some of the greatest centre-backs in modern football, but he named John Terry and Rio Ferdinand as the ‘toughest’ he faced.

Pires, who won three Premier League titles and two FA Cups during a six-year spell at Arsenal, admitted he found it difficult to adapt to life in English football due to its physicality.

The World Cup winner, who also had a stint with Aston Villa, was quizzed on who he felt were the hardest defenders he had to play against and two names sprang to mind.

Chelsea centre-back Terry, who won five Premier League titles, and Manchester United centre-half Ferdinand – a six-time Premier League champion – were at the top of his list.

‘In the Premier League it was John Terry and Rio Ferdinand,’ he told Match of the Day: Top 10.

‘Matches against Chelsea and Manchester United were always hard and Terry and Ferdinand were very tough, very physical,’ he said.

Rio Ferdinand and John Terry warm up during the England training session at London Colney on May 31, 2011 in St Albans, England.
Ferdinand and Terry both won multiple Premier League titles (Picture: Getty)

‘Coming from France to play in the Premier League, it was very difficult at the beginning.

‘Arsene Wenger told me: “It’s not the same football. It’s physical, you need to learn.”

‘My first match was at Sunderland. I was sitting on the bench and after about 20-25 minutes I remember thinking: “Wow, this football is not for me”.’

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