Carles Puyol names an XI of the toughest players he faced during his career

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Carles Puyol was the dictionary definition of a talismanic captain.

Many players like to believe they give 100 per cent during every match, but Puyol absolutely did.

He would run brick walls for Barcelona and Spain - and both teams were left with a huge void to fill when the centre-back hung up his boots in 2014.

Puyol wasn’t the most technically gifted of elite footballers - although he was still very talented - but he played a key role in arguably the most talented club side of all time.

The likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta only ever had good things to say about their old, trusty skipper.

Puyol made his professional debut in 1999 and retired 15 years later.

During that time, he played against most of the world’s best players. But who does he rate as the toughest?

Puyol: The toughest players I've faced

Puyol has made up an XI comprised of the toughest players he ever played against - per Squawka - but there’s no room for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon

Hard to argue with this one.

Iker Casillas, Puyol’s former Spain teammate, might not be impressed with his choice, mind.

Right-back: Javier Zanetti

One of the most consistent full-backs ever.

Centre-back: Alessandro Nesta

Part of the great AC Milan side of the early to mid-2000s.

Centre-back: Paolo Maldini

One of the greatest defenders of all time.

Left-back: Roberto Carlos

Attack-minded full-back who spent nine successful years at Real Madrid.

Midfield: Clarence Seedorf

Strong as an ox, and blessed with serious talent, Clarence Seedorf was an underrated world-class player.

Midfield: Zinedine Zidane

One of the top 10 players of all time, Zinedine Zidane was born to play football.

Midfield: Andrea Pirlo

His exceptional passing ability allowed him to dictate matches.

Right-wing: Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben would give top defenders nightmares. He still does, for that matter.

Left-wing: Sergio Aguero

He played against Puyol on multiple occasions with Atletico Madrid and clearly made an impression on the Spaniard.

Striker: Didier Drogba

Few centre-backs enjoyed playing against Didier Drogba - and Puyol was no exception.

Puyol’s toughest XI

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