Football News

Patrice Evra: James Milner was the toughest opponent I faced

By Ben Green

Published: 11:48, 22 October 2019

Former Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra has named Liverpool midfielder James Milner as the toughest opponent he faced during his career.

The Frenchman enjoyed eight years at Old Trafford between 2006 and 2014 before going on to play for Juventus, Marseille and West Ham United.

Evra versus Milner: Five things to know…

  • During Evra’s time at Man Utd he faced Milner on multiple occasions.
  • Milner played for Newcastle, Aston Villa, Man City and Liverpool during Evra’s Premier League days.
  • Evra has described Milner as ‘frustrating’ for his relentless application on the pitch.
  • The Frenchman’s viewpoint echos Dani Alves, who recently called Milner “the most annoying” he faced.
  • Alves says Milner’s persistence caused him great agitation on the pitch.

During his playing days Evra was tasked with marking some of world football’s deadliest attackers, including the likes of Lionel Messi.

However, it wasn’t the Argentine magician who kept Evra awake at night, but rather Liverpool utility man Milner.

“James Milner. I played against Messi many times in the wide position, and I won’t say he’s easy to mark, but I could deal with it. It’s when he goes central, that’s when he’s dangerous because he can turn on the right or left,” Evra said on Sky Sports.

“James Milner, only because he could frustrate me because I’m an attacking defender and he’s following me everywhere and challenging me in the air and I would just get frustrated sometimes. ‘Just go and attack and leave me alone!’

“When I was playing the derby against Manchester City, I had him and then he went to Liverpool and I had him again. So yeah, the one who frustrated me the most was James Milner.

“Of course, [Aaron] Lennon was the type of player that, if I wasn’t 100 per cent fit, would run behind me, and defender’s hate when a player runs behind. Lennon’s quick movement was difficult to play against, but yeah, it’s James Milner.”

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Dani Alves: Milner the most “annoying” player

Evra’s comments come eight months after his old Juventus teammate Dani Alves made similar claims about Milner.

The Brazil international has locked horns with the 33-year-old on numerous occasions at international level and on the European stage.

Alves, 36, won three Champions League titles during his time at Barcelona, where he came up against Cristiano Ronaldo on a consistent basis, but he has labelled Milner the most irritating opponent he has shared the pitch with.

Speaking to The Times in February, he said: “I have faced many, but the most annoying was James Milner.

“He follows you forward and follows you backwards. It’s very difficult because he attacks you and defends you, and then attacks you and defends you again.”