Rio Ferdinand was “the hardest opponent” that former Real Madrid forward Robinho ever faced.
Robinho, currently at Atlético Mineiro, has enjoyed spells with Real Madrid, Manchester City and AC Milan.
The 33-year-old has won two La Liga titles and one Serie A, as well as a number of international trophies in 100 caps with Brazil.
But he says that the best defender he has ever faced was Manchester United’s Ferdinand.
“I don’t agree that my away performances were different from my ones at home,” he told the Daily Mail. “The team as a whole played differently away.
“Another thing: I wasn’t afraid of the physicality. In Brazil, I didn’t have it easy growing up. People would kick you.
“Italy was the hardest league to score goals in. Those guys just love defending.
“But Rio Ferdinand is the hardest opponent I have faced: strong and quick. He didn’t kick you. He was so classy. I could do all my step-overs but he would watch the ball and tackle so immaculately. He only got the ball.”