For this week's column, we asked former Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Germany star Didi Hamann to talk about the best midfielders he came up against in his career. Didi was talking to B/R's Will Tidey.
Toughest Physical Challenge
I never enjoyed a physical challenge; I just wasn't that type of player. The hardest thing was taking on a physical opponent who could also play, and the best of those was Arsenal's Patrick Vieira.
Vieira was the player I least liked to face. He was very good on the ball, with decent touch and long legs. It was very hard to shield the ball from him and he was extremely strong and quick. I remember us (Liverpool) getting battered at Highbury, with Vieira in the middle of the park and attacking players like Thierry Henry with so much pace around him.
Most Technically Gifted
I could name an obvious one here, but I'm not going to. The one who sticks out to me is Pablo Aimar, thinking back to his time at Valencia. He's so talented, with vision, guile and skill in his armory.
I'd compare Aimar to David Silva at Manchester City. He has that level of awareness—he always knows exactly where you are.
Most Likely to Kick You
Gary Flitcroft was a dirty bastard. I actually saw him recently and I told him that, which was funny. He said that was just the way they needed to go about things at Blackburn in order to raise their game to the level of the best opponents.
Flitcroft never got me, but given the chance he would have. He says he was just making up for what they didn't have in terms of a passing game.
Midfielder I Wished I'd Played With
The one I enjoyed seeing most might surprise some people. In the middle of the park, you always want people who are available—whose movement is such that they give you an option and know exactly where to be.
Manchester City's Elano was a different class. He had an ability to find space between the lines and a fizz about his play I really like to see. I would have loved to play in the same team as him.
Hardest Training-Ground Opponent
Some players train harder than others. I trained very hard at the start of my career, but towards the latter stages I was mindful of being as fresh as possible for games. I was getting paid for playing, after all, and not training. So I took it easy in the days before matches.
Some players never let up. He's not a midfielder, but the most competitive I ever came up against on the training ground was Liverpool's Jamie Carragher. There was very rarely a day when he didn't put maximum effort in and gave everything he had.
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