Paul Scholes has picked out two midfield opponents that he hated playing against and says they were both so “awkward” to deal with.
The former Manchester United man has revealed ex-Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira and former Fulham man Papa Bouba Diop were two players he did not relish playing against. Both were huge physical presences with Vieira a man mountain for the Gunners helping them to win three Premier League titles and three FA Cups; Diop on the otherhand was not as successful, but spent seven seasons in the top flight and at 6ft 5in was more than a match for anyone.
Scholes, 45, won an impressive 11 league titles under Sir Alex Ferguson and earned 66 caps for England, but despite his many accolades, he hated the physical challenge posed from the likes of Vieira and Bouba Diop.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “As a midfield player, especially the way I played, I didn’t really have to beat people, I didn’t have to be stronger than the other person, I didn’t have to be quicker than the other person, it was more my passing that beat them.
“I suppose the awkward ones… obviously Patrick Vieira, he’s so long, he’s so big. You think you’ve got the ball, next minute he nicks the ball over your head.
“He was a clever player as well, he could play one-twos around you, he could score goals, he could make goals.
“There’s one more that people won’t think of, when I played against Portsmouth, do you remember Papa Bouba Diop? He played for Fulham as well.
“Big, massive, they used to call him the wardrobe. Get involved with him physically, you’re absolutely wasting your time.
“I always found him awkward to play against. ‘Look, he wasn’t a Patrick Vieira, of course he wasn’t, but he still had talent. As far as players being awkward to play against, I always found him a nuisance.”