Wayne Bridge says he did not find Cristiano Ronaldo too much of a struggle to deal with during his playing days, with the likes of Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips causing him more problems.
Bridge faced plenty of the world’s best players during his time in the Premier League and Champions League with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, while he picked up 36 caps for England as well.
He took on a young Ronaldo during the Portuguese superstar’s first spell at Manchester United, and while he recognised him as a superb talent who could ‘make you look stupid’ it wasn’t one of the toughest challenges of his career.
‘I didn’t mind playing against Ronaldo. He wasn’t as quick as me over the first few yards, I always felt that I could stick with him and I always felt I did okay against him.
‘You always had to be switched on. He loved a step-over and was very skillful and he could sometimes make you look stupid. It was always at the back of my mind that he was going to try and nutmeg me here or twist me about four times until I fall over.’
Ronaldo did not make the list of Bridge’s top five toughest opponents, but four English players did, and a young Algerian that Bridge struggled to deal with towards the end of his career.
‘There’s two players that really stand out: Sean Wright-Phillips and Aaron Lennon,’ said Bridge. ‘They’re very small so have a low centre of gravity so they’re very quick over five yards. You always had to stay switched on and try and predict where they were going as it was always a battle with those two.
‘I always had good battles with Kieron Dyer as well, he was a player where we’d just cancel each other out. We never got much change out of each other me and him.
‘When I played against Joe Cole, if I was ever less than 100 per cent I’d know about it because he can twist and turn you inside out.
‘Another player that was tough was [Riyad] Mahrez. I played against him when I was at Reading and it was towards the end of my career, I had a lot of knee trouble and he twisted me inside and out – which I obviously blamed on my knee. Looking on now to see what he’s achieved it’s brilliant.’
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