Cristiano Ronaldo has described the former Arsenal and Chelsea full-back Ashley Cole as his toughest opponent.
The 31-year-old, during his six-year period with Manchester United from 2003, went toe-to-toe with the former England international in some high-profile battles.
As an Arsenal player Cole became renowned as one of the few left-backs that successfully duelled with Ronaldo, who then was nominally a winger, and the three-time Ballon d’Or recipient fondly remembers those clashes.
“Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,” Ronaldo told Coach Magazine.
“He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”
Before leaving for Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 Ronaldo lifted three Premier League titles as well as the FA Cup.
In the process, he managed 118 goals across 292 matches in all competitions, winning back-to-back PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards.
He famously squared off against Cole, then at Chelsea, in the 2008 Champions League final, in which he scored for United, and despite missing his spot kick in the ensuing penalty shootout he lifted the prize.
Ronaldo has since lifted two more European Cups with Real Madrid and is hoping to be part of the first successful defence of the competition since its inception in 1992.
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