Ruud van Nistelrooy has named the famous AC Milan defence as the toughest he ever came across in his Manchester United career.
The legendary Dutch striker, now 44, played for United between 2001 and 2006 and was a huge fan favourite at Old Trafford. He later had spells at Real Madrid, Hamburg and Malaga before retiring in 2012.
Van Nistelrooy won the Premier League under Sir Alex Ferguson in the 2002/03 season, winning the league’s Golden Boot prize that season, but was denied European glory during his United spell, as AC Milan dominated the competition, winning it in 2003 and reaching the 2005 final.
And the Dutchman admitted it was a huge challenge to take on the likes of Italian legends Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini.
He told the Oxford Union: “Italian defences were horrible to play against.
“They all stay behind [the ball], it’s like, ‘Wow, go on full-backs, go forward a bit.’ And they are having none of it. They’d rather not concede than score!
“The defence I played against Cafu, Jaap Stam, Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini. That was incredible. And then they had [Gennaro] Gattuso in front of them. I thought they’d kill me if I got the ball.
“Oh, and then they had [Andrea] Pirlo and [Clarence] Seedorf, the strongest man in football. That was a tough night. I didn’t get near a shot.”