Ex-Chelsea star Michael Essien reveals his toughest opponents

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Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has revealed that former England internationals Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard were his toughest opponents in his career.

The Ghanaian, who spent eight years at Stamford Bridge, says Scholes and Gerrard, who played for Manchester United and Liverpool respectively stood out during his time in the English Premiership.

“It’s between Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes. Those two players were quite tough to play against. They were not only good on the ball, but they could tackle hard. They were really tough, but the Premier League was much more tough compared to now.”

Essien who enjoyed a hugely successful career at Stamford Bridge added that “every team you come up against was difficult” in the EPL. Essien has played for a host of top European clubs including Real Madrid, AC Milan, Lyon and Panathinaikos.

He played for Bastia in France after leaving Ghanaian outfit Liberty Professionals. At Chelsea, he won the Premier League on two occasions (2005-2006 and 2009-10), four FA Cup titles, one League Cup, two Community Shields and the prestigious Uefa Champions League in 2012.

At international level, he represented Ghana at the 2002, 2008 and 2010 Africa Cup of Nations as well as the 2006 and 2014 Fifa World Cup tournaments.

Scholes recently said he was “sick to death” of being compared to Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

The former United talisman was famously difficult to squeeze into the England team alongside the midfield pair and is bored of having the conversation in retirement.

“I’m sick to death of hearing about this to be honest. It doesn’t really matter. People can have their own opinions. The two were amazing, amazing players. But very different players.”

Scholes and Gerrard were often played on the left wing for England in a bid to fit the talented trio into the team but with limited success.

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By Mthokozisi Dube

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