Cristiano Ronaldo has played against some seriously good defenders during spells at Manchester United and Real Madrid – but he’s picked a former Chelsea and Arsenal man as his toughest adversary.
Full-backs like Dani Alves and Jordi Alba have attempted to contain him in El Clasico since he signed for Real Madrid in 2009, while Diego Godin and Co have tried to contain him in the Madrid derby.
But Ronaldo has picked Ashley Cole as the toughest player he’s ever faced.
Ronaldo said to Coach Magazine: “Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole. He doesn’t give you a second to breathe.
“He was such a tenacious player, quick, tough in the tackle – when he was at his peak. You knew it would never be an easy game.”
While Ronaldo is rightly hailed as one of the players of his generation, Cole was one of the best full-backs in Premier League history.
They battled one another while Cole was at Arsenal and Chelsea, with the England defender often getting the better of Ronaldo.
Cole also shut him out at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.
Cole is now plying his trade in the MLS with LA Galaxy.
Current and former England team-mate Steven Gerrard summed up Cole’s performances against Ronaldo at international level:
“When Ashley marked Ronaldo he was superb and had him in his pocket.”