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Arsenal legend Robert Pires names Chelsea hardman John Terry and Man Utd icon Rio Ferdinand as toughest opponents

ARSENAL legend Robert Pires has hailed tough diamonds John Terry and Rio Ferdinand as his hardest Premier League opponents.

French World Cup winner Pires also revealed it took him just 25 minutes watching his first game after arriving from Marseille to think of the brutal Prem: “Wow, this football is not for me.”

And the Gunners’ 2004 Invincible singled out arguably England’s finest two centre-backs of the modern generation, long-time Chelsea skipper JT and Manchester United icon Ferdy, as especially hard.

Asked to pick the most difficult players he faced, former winger Pires told the MOTD Top 10 Podcast: “In the Premier League, it was John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.   

“Matches against Chelsea and Manchester United were always hard and Terry and Ferdinand were very tough, very physical.”


Pires was the 2002 Football Writers’ player of the year when the Gunners clinched the double.

And on his way to an overall tally of two Prem crowns plus a couple of FA Cup successes, he was named in the PFA Team of the Year three seasons running.

Yet he admits seeing the English top-flight at close hand, let alone adjusting to it, was a shock to his footballing upbringing.

He said: “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’.”

If Pires still thinks that, imagine how good he could have been if it did suit him!

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