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Cristiano Ronaldo has already named the toughest opponent he has ever faced during his long and successful career.

The 38-year-old, who now plays his club football for Al Nassr, has had many tough battles with defenders across spells with Sporting Lisbon, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus.

In his early career, Ronaldo would terrorise defenders with his direct running, quick feet and unique dribbling style, before adapting his game to become a complete centre forward in recent years.

His second spell at United saw him net 16 goals in his only full Premier League season. He is still smashing in the goals with Al Nassr in the Saudi Pro League, scoring 20 goals in 20 games since his arrival in January.

His change of role and position in recent years has seen him come up against a range of defenders and styles – but there was one Premier League star that always stood out for Ronaldo.

The player in question is Ashley Cole, believed by many to be the greatest left-back of the Premier League era with Arsenal and Chelsea.

Ronaldo faced up to the England legend when he played for both clubs, and when he faced the Three Lions with Portugal.

Since retirement, the former defender has had coaching roles with England U21, Derby and Everton.

Ronaldo explained how Cole was the toughest opponent he ever faced.

Speaking to Coach Mag, he said: “Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole. He does not give you a second to breathe.

“He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”

Ronaldo battles with Chelsea’s Ashly Cole for the ball during his Man Utd days

Shortly after signing for Chelsea in 2006, Cole faced off against Ronaldo, and his performance went a long way to showing why the Portugal icon found it so difficult to play him.

Cole recalled to Chelsea TV: “I was so focused on that game. Even in the changing room I just felt different going into this game.

“My focus and concentration – mentally I was on it. I came to show him the line a lot because I kind of fancied my chances up against him with my pace.

“And a little bit of mentality actually. I think I got in his head a few times. He always wanted that extra trick.”

Source: Sportbible