Rio Ferdinand names Bolton Wanderers great and Arsenal star among his toughest opponents

Former Manchester United and England centre-back Rio Ferdinand has picked Kevin Davies as one of the toughest players he faced during his career.

Davies played 407 games for Bolton Wanderers over 12 years and netted 85 goals during that time, but it was his all-round game, physicality and hold-up play which made him such an effective player at Premier League level. He only reached double figures in three top flight seasons for Wanderers, but made 30 plus appearances in every single campaign.

He then moved on to Preston North End for a couple of years before calling time on his career and moving into the world of football agency. His years in a Bolton shirt were the standout ones of his career and Ferdinand does not reflect fondly on the battles he had with Davies.

“He was hard to play against,” he told Broadtalks podcast. “Before the ball was even coming he’s grabbing and scratching. Horrible to play against, nasty, he’d give you a difficult afternoon.”

Given the career Ferdinand had, and the teams and individuals he came up against, it would’ve been a surprise if Davies was the only player mentioned. There were, as expected, other world class strikers who gave Ferdinand a tough time.

“Raul, the movement, he would go into areas, the positions he’d go into, Bergkamp the same,” Ferdinand added. “They’d go deep and I used to run out and then there would be a big space behind me.

“Ronaldo, he let me know there’s another level. The maddest thing is he’d had about four operations on his knee by then. I was thinking I dread to think what he’d done to me if he was proper fit. He was different.”

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