Nemanja Vidic has named Peter Crouch among his four toughest opponents during his Premier League career.
The former Manchester United captain spent eight years at Old Trafford, forging one of the best central defensive partnerships in the game with Rio Ferdinand.
But Vidic has discussed the strikers who caused him most problems and despite coming off worse in a number of battles with Fernando Torres, the Serbian stopper first names Crouch as one of his trickiest tests.
“My first experience was Peter Crouch,” Vidic told The Athletic.
“I’d never seen a two-metres tall player before. He played for Liverpool and we played them in a cup game at Anfield. I was thinking ‘Wow, what can I do today with this guy?’
“Then I saw Bellamy next to him, not a great player on the ball but very, very fast. He would run into space, Crouch would jump into the air. I’d never seen football played like this.
“I’d never had a No.9 and a sharp, fast, player next to him. I knew how to deal with them individually but not both of them at the same time. I played alongside Wes Brown, it was a tough game, a long game. We lost 1-0.”
Vidic also paid tribute to Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.
He said: “He was a very clever player who would get into the brain of the defenders. He was strong, but he was always thinking ahead.
“He would think, ‘If the defender pushes me now I will go down’ or ‘next time I will go strong’
“He scored so many important goals, he was very consistent. I played against him when we were both at the peak of our careers.”
Vidic also name-checked Sergio Aguero and former Liverpool attacker Luis Suarez.
He said: “I’m convinced that Aguero was born as a defender. He knows where the ball will come and where he can attack.
“I played against him when they beat us 4-1 in the Moyes season. That was my worst game for United.”
On Suarez, Vidic added: “He is is an energetic player. He’s different from Aguero who doesn’t run for 90 minutes – he’s a player who uses instinct. Everything is done in bursts. I don’t think he knows exactly what he’s doing but he succeeds.
“The ball will go through a defender’s legs and people will think it’s an accident, but he has this sheer force to do it.”