Real Madrid defender Pepe has come up against some of the best attackers in world football during his club and country duties and has now revealed the toughest opponent he ever came across.
The Portuguese centre-back picked Chelsea forward Diego Costa ahead of the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.
The duo encountered some heated exchanges while Costa was in La Liga playing for Atletico Madrid.
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However, since his departure to west London in 2014, the pair have been unable to renew their rivalry.
Speaking in an interview for Soccer AM, Pepe said: “[My toughest opponent?] Without a doubt, Diego Costa.
“He’s a striker who really loves battles and loves getting stuck in.
It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise given the confrontational style of the duo and the Portuguese centre-back revealed what drives him to get involved in such fiery affairs.
"I don’t like to lose a 50/50, in the same way a striker doesn’t like missing chances.”
BACK IN RECKONING
After a torrid start to the campaign, Los Blancos are back in contention for domestic and European glory under Zinedine Zidane and Pepe heaped praise on the Frenchman for bringing clarity to Real Madrid’s approach to the season.
“[Zidane] is a coach who works very hard. He’s very disciplined and is very clear about his ideas in terms of what he wants and what we need to do on the pitch.”
The 33-year-old also believes the World Cup winner is here for the long haul.
“I think he could be the coach here at Real Madrid for many years. He loves football, he lives for it, he has outstanding football knowledge and has a bright managerial future ahead of him.”
“I think he will definitely be one of the best managers in the world.”
Asked who inspired him as he was growing up, Pepe was quick to respond with two of the most renowned names in the game and a pair of Real Madrid legends.
“I really liked Fernando Hierro. Roberto Carlos too, but as a centre-back it was always about Fernando Hierro.”