Today marks 18 years to the day Ashley Cole gave the world a lesson on how to defend against Cristiano Ronaldo, the former England left back produced a defensive masterclass against the tricky Portuguese forward.
During the 2004 Euro, Portugal came up against England and Cole had the task to defend the then rising star Ronaldo.
Despite all the flicks and tricks, Cole produced a fine display of his defensive abilities to limit the winger's influence on the game.
18 years ago today:— A Funny Old Game (@sid_lambert) June 24, 2022
Ashley Cole was having absolutely none of Cristiano’s flicks and tricks…
Two years after that game, Cole again managed to subdue Ronaldo during a Premier League clash.
Ronaldo regularly cites Cole as his toughest opponent and one game from 2006 proves exactly why.
The winger had begun to establish himself as one of the world's hottest prospects in that period and had a prolific partnership with Wayne Rooney.
But he couldn't get going at all on a cold November evening and a lot of that is down to Cole's no-nonsense approach.
Ashley Cole pocketing Ronaldo and forcing him to come off isn’t talked about enough— Ayo (@CFCAyo_) January 13, 2021
Every twist and turn Ronaldo tried, Cole matched with a firm tackle and it flustered his opponent.
Cameras even picked up on Cole making a gesture to his opponent, while saying: "You're in my pocket!"
The left-back told Chelsea TV in 2020: "I was so focused on that game. Even in the changing room I just felt different going into this game.
"My focus and concentration - mentally I was on it. I came to show him the line a lot because I kind of fancied my chances up against him with my pace.
"And a little bit of mentality actually, I think I got in his head a few times. He always wanted that extra trick.
Ronaldo and Cole during a game in 2007. (Image Credit: PA)
"I gave him a strong tackle, maybe it was a foul or not, I don't know. And I felt at that time he didn't want it no more.
"He's kind of put his hand up and said, 'I wanna go off.' So I think it was a good time to say I had him in my pocket."
Ronaldo did go off in the 86th minute and was replaced by Darren Fletcher.
"I had so much respect for him," Cole continued. "It was always a tough battle against not just Manchester United but against him.
"And to see what he's gone on to do is testament to how good he actually was.
Image Credit: PA
"This is just one of my good moments against him and I would probably say I came out on top on this occasion."
Speaking to Coach Mag, Ronaldo echoed that sentiment and said: "Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole. He does not give you a second to breathe.
"He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game."
Image Credit: PA
"It has to be Messi," he said during an appearance on Sky Sports.
"People talk about Ronaldo more because I played against him more. But I think to mark Messi, on his day... he was just too good for me."
Featured Image Credit: sid_lambert/Twitter
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