Ex-Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has explained why former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was the “best player” he came up against during his time in English football.
Mikel, who spent 11 years with the Blues, was asked about the toughest and best Premier League opponents by Rio Ferdinand on his FIVE podcast, and he said Gerrard”s all-round ability really stood out for him:
“I’d probably have to go back to Stevie G. He was the best Premier League player, for me. He was so physically strong. I’m physically strong as well, I know I can get people off the ball, but not Gerrard.”
“I could not get him off the ball. He knew how to find space behind me. You think you had him and he’s gone, because he was so quick as well and he can shoot right or left, it’s so difficult.”
Mikel reserved special mention for Gerrard’s time playing as a No.10 behind Fernando Torres, stating that the Reds legend was incredibly difficult to mark:
“As soon as you lose him you know you’re in trouble, and that’s why the partnership with him and Torres was so good and they scored a lot of goals. We played in a lot of big games against Liverpool at that time, Champions League, Premier League and they became one of our close rivals. I had a few tough times against them!”
Liverpool fans don’t need to be told how special Gerrard was
Of course, Mikel may have spoken about Frank Lampard if he was asked about teammates, as well as opponents, but it is not a surprise that the Nigerian rates Gerrard so highly.
Whether he was asked to make a tackle, deliver a raking long diagonal pass to a teammate, or shoot with accuracy from 30 yards out, the midfielder could really do it all. That is a very rare thing in modern football. For supporters who saw the club icon play at Anfield every week, they don’t need Mikel to tell him what a talent he was.