Rio Ferdinand names the two toughest strikers he faced - no Cristiano Ronaldo

Rio Ferdinand Press Conference London

Rio Ferdinand may be steering away from the world of football but his place in Premier League and Manchester United folk-law is more than confirmed. 

Across 12-years at Old Trafford, the Englishman accumulated 455 appearances and collected six league titles as well as the Champions League. 

Revered as a ball-playing centre-back, Ferdinand became the most expensive defender in history when he moved to United and endures as one of English football's finest in his position.

And Ferdinand, 38, is now pursuing a career in boxing.

The surprise announcement has thrust Ferdinand back into the spotlight with the Englishman unwinding from retirement in 2015 as a pundit with BT Sport.

Although his new-found spree of press appearances have posed questions of his first opponent in the ring, it has also offered Ferdinand a chance to truly reflect upon his first sport.

In an interview with the Mirror, the 38-year-old recalled the finest players he starred alongside and also the toughest adversaries he lined up against.

In terms of the latter, there's perhaps a surprise in the fact Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't make the cut. Ferdinand played against the mercurial Portuguese twice in 2013 - a year thats saw him garner the Ballon d'Or title.

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Furthermore, Ronaldo scored home and away in that very Champions League clash.

Nevertheless, props from Ferdinand lay elsewhere. The ex-Man Utd man gave the nod to: "Ronaldo, the Brazilian one and Messi. Both brilliant players."

The former remains one of the greatest goal scorers of his generation and famously struck a hat-trick at Old Trafford during Ferdinand's debut campaign with the Reds. As far as Messi is concerned, just cite both the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals.

As for the Portuguese Ronaldo, Ferdinand was sure to decorate his ex-teammate as one of the two finest players he shared a dressing room with.

The Englishman chose: "Probably Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo. Scholesy was just pure talent, Ronaldo was just a devastating finisher."

Combine the two pairs and you would have yourself quite the team.

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Scholes is customarily nominated as one of the greatest midfielders of the 21st century, even by the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola. Therefore, it's no surprise he gets the nod alongside someone as special as Ronaldo.

With those names being thrown around, however, it's hard to see any foray into boxing having anything on his footballing endeavours. 

Who would you rather have in your team - Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? Have your say in the comments section below.

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