Former Liverpool full-back Jose Enrique has named Cristiano Ronaldo as the toughest opponent he ever faced in the Premier League, but added that the Juventus star is the “second best in the world” behind Lionel Messi.
Enrique, a cult hero at both Newcastle and Anfield from his time in England, has gone on to become a football agent since hanging up his boots, but not before having played against some of the biggest names in the game.
As such, the former defender was asked to name the best player he ever came up against during his playing days in the Premier League.
“I have to say Cristiano – the second best player in the world!” Enrique told Tribuna before giving shout-outs to some other notable opponents. “I loved [Didier] Drogba, he was unbelievable. But I usually faced right wingers and Cristiano was brilliant.
“In his prime, [Hatem] Ben Arfa was very difficult to play against, [Theo] Walcott, Aaron Lennon when he was at Tottenham. Aaron was so fast, it was very difficult.
“But I was never scared. If you’re scared, you’re not ready to play for a team like Liverpool. That’s the reality. You want to play against big players. When I played against Cristiano... You know, I always say to young players that when you face a guy like Cristiano, you have nothing to lose.
“If he beats you one-on-one, it’s Cristiano, you know. But if you do well, you do well against one of the best players in the world. You have to be extra motivated. You have to love playing against big players.”
Enrique went on to claim that he sees Barcelona striker Luis Suarez as the best player he has ever seen in a Liverpool shirt and added that having the chance to play alongside Messi at Camp Nou pales in comparison to the support provided by the Anfield faithful.
“This is my own opinion of course, this is not coming from him. Barcelona was his dream and he left Liverpool because Barca was in a better position than Liverpool at that time, that was a reality,” he said.
“Liverpool weren’t winning trophies and Barcelona was one of the best teams in the world. But I’ve been invited to watch him play at Barca and we had some conversations that I’m not going to talk about.
“And I remember him playing at Anfield, fans singing his name for 80 minutes. He doesn’t have this in Barcelona, not even Messi has it. They might sing to Leo two or three times during games and he’s the best player in history!”