The 33-year-old was also asked to name the soccer professional who has frustrated him most over the years after the Manchester United legend singled him out
James Milner has reacted to Manchester United legend Patrice Evra naming the Liverpool midfielder as his toughest opponent, insisting that it has been nice to know that the Frenchman found him a nuisance.
The former Red Devils left-back faced Milner during his days at Aston Villa and then Manchester City and Liverpool, while the duo also met during a Euro 2012 group-stage match between France and England.
And, despite having had to face Lionel Messi in the past, including in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals that United lost to Barcelona, Evra picked out Milner as his toughest opponent.
He told Sky Sports: “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.
“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 soccer professional that, if I wasn’t 100 per cent fit, would run behind me, and defender’s hate when a soccer professional runs behind. Lennon’s quick movement was difficult to play against, but yeah, it’s James Milner.”
And, ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Genk on Wednesday, Milner was on press-conference duty and was asked for his reaction to Evra’s assertion that he was the opponent who caused him the most issues.
With a reporter pressing Milner to name the soccer professional he found the most frustrating to play against, the 33-year-old replied: “Players? I don’t know really, it’s hard to name one obviously but it’s nice to know Patrice thought I was a nuisance.”
James Milner on Lionel Messi:
“He wasn’t happy. He was giving me plenty in Spanish at half-time. He was calling me ‘burro.’ It translates as donkey but I think it’s also used in Spanish football as a term for someone who goes around kicking people.”pic.twitter.com/BHsCAZT8r5
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 26, 2019
Milner has been another who has gone toe-to-toe with Barca superstar Messi, with the pair coming up against each other in the Champions League semi-final last season having previously met during the Liverpool midfielder’s time at City.
Indeed, the former England international left his mark on the Argentine, bundling him over near the touchline in the first-leg of the tie and revealing afterwards that Messi had been left unimpressed with the challenge.
He said at the time: “He [Messi] wasn’t happy. He was giving me plenty in Spanish at half-time. He was calling me ‘burro’. It translates as donkey but I think it’s also used in Spanish football as a term for someone who goes around kicking people.”