Nicolas Anelka has named former Arsenal defender Martin Keown as his toughest opponent, even in training.
The French striker had a heavily decorated career, winning league titles with four different top tier sides, as well as the European Championships with France and a Champions League title with Real Madrid.
Anelka has since moved into coaching, and currently works with Lille’s youth sides, but with French football having been put off until September, the 41 year-old has had time to reflect on his playing career a little.
After playing for as many as 12 senior teams across the world in his illustrious senior career, it is Arsenal’s former defender who he names as his toughest opponent.
‘I think Martin Keown was the toughest,’ Anelka told Bolton Wanderer’s website in a Q&A. ‘He was fast, strong and dirty.
‘I liked playing against him in training because I knew it was just like a game situation.
‘He helped me a lot to adapt to English football, along with Tony Adams and Steve Bould.
‘Of course it was war every time I played against him when I was facing Arsenal.’
Anelka made no mistake in asserting who his outstanding best team-mate was also, in naming Brazil legend R9.
‘Only one player I can say as an answer to this question. Ronaldo – El Phenomeno,’ he added.
It’s quite crazy that even after listing Anelka’s accomplishments throughout his career, I still feel that he failed to meet the full potential that he showed during his short spell at Highbury all those years ago.
Real Madrid cut ties with him after just one season, and his family and attitude has always appeared to be an issue, although he did seem to enjoy his best years at Chelsea, even if his lasting memory at the club could well be his missed penalty in the shootout of the Champions League final against Manchester United.
Did Anelka mature too late? Should he have won more during his career? How much praise is it for Keown to be named as his most fierce opponent considering the leagues he featured in over the years?