I played Zinedine Zidane, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta but ‘the wardrobe’ was one of my toughest opponents
EPL

I played Zinedine Zidane, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta but ‘the wardrobe’ was one of my toughest opponents

Oct 24, 2023

After an illustrious 17-and-a-half year stint at Manchester United, it’s fair to say Paul Scholes is one of the greatest midfielders of all-time.

The former midfielder made 716 appearances across all competitions for the Red Devils, scoring 155 goals.

Scholes played against Zidane in the Euro 2024 group stages

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Scholes played against Zidane in the Euro 2024 group stagesCredit: 2004 AFP
He also played Xavi in two Champions League finals but lost both

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He also played Xavi in two Champions League finals but lost bothCredit: 2011 Getty Images
Scholes also came face to face with Iniesta on his European adventures

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Scholes also came face to face with Iniesta on his European adventuresCredit: 2008 Manchester United

Having won multiple major honours that include 11 Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues, his legendary status is certified.

International football also proved successful for him as he featured 66 times for England and appeared at two World Cups.

Such time and experience in football has allowed Scholes to play against some of the best in the sport’s history.

For example he competed against the 1998 Ballon d’Or winner Zinedine Zidane on seven different occasions.

Three of those came at international level and the rest in the Champions League, with the United legend winning twice.

Iconic midfield duo Xavi and Andres Iniesta asserted their dominance on the pitch for both Barcelona and Spain.

They too were lucky enough to grace the same pitch as Scholes – the former did so six times and the latter four.

All three are held in high regard by football fans across the world and Scholes would have undoubtedly found them difficult to face.

Scholes said Diop was 'awkward' to play against

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Scholes said Diop was ‘awkward’ to play againstCredit: 2005 Getty Images
The former midfielder made 129 appearances in the Premier League

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The former midfielder made 129 appearances in the Premier LeagueCredit: 2009 Getty Images

However, Papa Bouba Diop is an unexpected player that he says gave him tough time during his career.

Speaking to Robbie Savage on his BBC Radio 5 show, he named the host and Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira as two of his toughest opponents.

He then added: “There’s one more that people won’t think of.

“We used to play against Portsmouth. Do you remember Papa Bouba Diop? Big, massive. They used to call him the wardrobe.

Diop was also a key part of Portsmouth's 2009 FA Cup winning squad

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Diop was also a key part of Portsmouth’s 2009 FA Cup winning squad

“You get involved physically with him and you’re wasting your time. I always found him awkward to play against. He wasn’t a Vieira, of course he wasn’t, but he still had talent.”

Diop, who tragically passed away in 2020 after a long illness, starred for Fulham, Portsmouth and West Ham, making 325 appearances throughout his career.

On eight of those occasions Diop came up against Scholes, with five in action for Fulham and the other three for Portsmouth.

His only victory against the former United man came at Old Trafford, Pompey’s historic FA Cup quarter-final win en route to lifting the trophy.

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