Manchester City star Fernandinho has picked a team of the toughest XI players he has ever played against.
Fernandinho started his career back in Brazil with Athletico Paranaense before moving to Shakhtar Donetsk in 2005.
The defensive midfielder spent eight years with the Russian side but ended up in the Premier League six years ago when City jumped at the chance to secure his services.
The 34-year-old has been a mainstay of Pep Guardiola’s side in recent years and a key reason behind their ability to win back to back Premier League titles.
Fernandinho was asked by Sky Sports to name the toughest XI he’s faced and he had kind words for some of the big names.
Former AC Milan and Brazil keeper Dida got the nod in goal, with Fernandinho explaining: “Dida when he played for AC Milan was great. I played against him a long time ago back in 2007 in the Champions League. Back then he was amazing. He was part of one of the greatest teams in Europe.”
Fernandinho’s defence includes former Bayern Munich star Phillip Lahm at right-back, AC Milan Paolo Maldini on the left and centre-backs of ex-Barcelona man Rafa Marquez and former Inter Milan defender Ivan Cordoba.
“One of the best was Philipp Lahm. I played against Cafu but he (Lahm) was one of the best without the ball and with the ball,” Fernandinho continued.
“I played against Paolo Maldini as a left-back. He was one of the best defenders in the world. He was clever and intelligent and never gave the ball away.
“Rafa Marquez was outstanding. I played against him in 2008. The way he kept the ball and found the right passes was great.
“Ivan Cordoba has to be the other centre-back. He used to play for Inter Milan. He won so many headers despite being small.”
Fernandinho included Javier Zanetti, formerly of Inter, on the right in a three-man midfield with Andrea Pirlo through the middle and Dutch great Claudio Seedorf on the left.
The front three named by the City midfielder sees Brazil legend Ronaldo through the middle, with Lionel Messi on the right and Cristiano Ronaldo on the left, though he wouldn’t be drawn on who is the best out of the latter two big names.
“In South America you grow up with the skills but in Europe you grow up as more of a hard worker. But they are both class and have been for a long time,” Fernandinho added.
Fernandinho’s toughest XI: Dida, Lahm, Marquez, Cordoba, Maldini; Zanetti, Pirlo, Seedorf; Messi, Ronaldo, (Cristiano) Ronaldo.