Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has picked out Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti as the toughest opponent he ever faced during his playing career.
The Welsh winger spent 24 years at the club winning 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League twice, taking on great sides in all competitions throughout.
When asked about his toughest opponent, he named the Argentine defender.
“The hardest player I’ve played against was Zanetti for Inter Milan,” Giggs told the MUTV Group Chat.
“Just run all day. He used to play in midfield so he was comfortable on the ball.
“He could defend, he was tough, he actually broke my nose in the quarter finals.
“Zanetti had everything as a defender.”
Giggs’ first encounter with Zanetti was in the first leg of our Champions League quarter-final in 1999, with United beating Inter 2-0 at Old Trafford thanks to two goals from Dwight Yorke,
Writing about the match in his autobiography in 2005, the Welshman remembered: “On a personal note, my enjoyment was marred when Javier Zanetti broke my nose with an elbow – something AC Milan also did to me in March 2005. Nice people, the Milanese. And people talk about me going to play over there!”
We defended our lead in the second leg, securing a 1-1 draw in Milan en route to winning the Champions League that season.
Giggs and Zanetti, remarkably, would be on opposite sides again 10 years later when United and Inter met in the last 16 of the Champions League, in which we managed to secure a draw in Italy and won 2-0 in England.