Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk snubbed from Charlie Austin's top five toughest opponents

  • Kobe Tong

Charlie Austin knows a thing or two about scoring goals.

Rising up the English footballing pyramid with free-scoring seasons at Swindon Town and Burnley, the 31-year-old eventually transferred his finishing skills to the Premier League itself.

Frankly, Austin doesn't get enough credit for his astonishing performances in the 2014/15 season, scoring 18 Premier League goals for a Queens Park Rangers side that suffered relegation.

Austin's goal-scoring pedigree

And while Austin's career might have peaked with that incredible campaign that won him an England call-up, he still had plenty to offer in the top-flight with Southampton and West Bromwich Albion.

Now, Austin has linked up with QPR again in the Championship and has had some time to reflect upon the toughest defenders that he's faced across his travels in English football.

In fact, during an interview with talkSPORT, Austin provided fascinating insight into the life of a Premier League striker by naming the five most difficult defenders he played against.


Austin's toughest opponents

And astonishingly, Liverpool juggernaut Virgil van Dijk didn't make the cut, so be sure to check out the five defenders who did - as well as Austin's justification for them - down below:

5. Paul Robinson

“When I started out for Swindon in [the 2009/10] season, I played against him three times – I didn’t get a kick. That includes the 2010 play-off final, albeit I missed a big chance.

“He was tough to play against, and someone I didn’t have a lot of joy out of. I learned a lot from playing against him.

“He bought into the Millwall culture and he was a Millwall centre-half and it was as simple as that. I just didn’t enjoy playing against him.

“I’d say there are a lot of people that have played against him for Millwall and other clubs that would say similar. A tough defender to play against.”


4. Richard Dunne

“This is a man I was very fortunate to be on the same team as.

“Four days a week, he used to try to kick the hell out of me in training. I’d just see him and think, ‘I’m so glad he’s on my side’. Imagine playing with him five or ten years ago when Dunny was flying?

“He was deceptively quick. He didn’t get a lot of credit for that. Even when he played with me in the back end of his career, I thought he was very good and someone you could see why he had the career he did.

“Richard Dunne, he’d be in a lot of Irish starting all-time 11 centre-halves. He also had quality on the ball. Very quick and strong and, like I said, I was glad he was a teammate and someone I didn’t have to play against.”


3. Gary Cahill

“He just read everything I did. He’d beat me in the air, in behind he was strong. He had a partnership with JT [John Terry].

“The back four was solid and I just found it really tough. I did score against them with a clever back heel, but I found it very tough.

“Even when I trained with England for two weeks, I learned a lot playing against him that I took on to the next part of my career, which was to win fouls very cleverly.

“He won so much as an individual and it just doesn’t get talked about. He’s still playing now at Crystal Palace and he’s arguably their best defender.”


2. John Terry

“It was very tough. I played against him when I felt he was on the top of his game. I just couldn’t get anything. He just read everything. Again, I learned a lot playing against him that helped me later on in my career.

“He just epitomised what Chelsea were – strong, powerful and with a winning mentality and he’d win at all costs.”


1. Vincent Kompany

“That was someone who I just hated playing against. It didn’t matter how many videos I watched of him, I found no weaknesses and I couldn’t exploit anything when I played.

“Honestly, he was just very, very good. He’s up there with the strongest centre-halves I’ve played against. Again, we talk about leadership qualities, and he drove Man City for years.

“He was someone who I would have loved to be in the same team as because you want to play with players like that who drive your team on. I just found it so tough playing against him.”


Why no Virgil van Dijk?

Some interesting choices with an incredibly strong finish, but why no Van Dijk?

Besides, Austin did face the Dutchman as an opponent after he completed his Liverpool move as well as sharing the Southampton dressing room with him between 2016 and 2018.

But fear not, ladies and gentlemen, Austin hadn't simply forgotten about the Champions League and Premier League winner, so gave an explanation for his absence from the top five.

“I did miss Van Dijk out because it’s so easy to say Virgil,” the QPR forward explained.


“For me, Virgil is someone that should be enjoyed for the centre-half he is, not the arrogance that people think they see and that he gives centre forwards chances… he’s doing that because he knows what he’s doing.” 

Whatever you say, Charlie. I might not be a professional striker - who would have thought? - but something tells me that Van Dijk is tougher to play against than Robinson and Dunne ever were.

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