Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs names former Arsenal defender his toughest opponent
The former United winger is the most decorated player in the club’s history, winning 13 Premier League titles in an incredible career spanning more than two decades.
And in an interview with The Coaches’ Voice , he said former Arsenal foe Dixon was the trickiest player he came up against, but also named legendary Brazil and Italy full-backs Cafu and Javier Zanetti.
United and Arsenal regularly did battle for the league title in the late 1990s and early 2000s with a rivalry in the dugout between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, as well as between captains Roy Keane and Patrick Vieria.
And clearly Giggs and Dixon had their own battle too.
“I often say Lee Dixon was one of the most difficult opponents, because he was quickish but also he was intelligent,” he said.
“So I think he always got his distances right, which not all full-backs do, especially quick ones because they always think they can get out of jail.
“Very often they would go [mark] tight and you only need, doesn’t matter how quick you are, a couple of yards if you’re clever enough.
“Lee Dixon always got that distance right so that you couldn’t spin in behind but also if you did get the ball to feet, he was up to you. He was able to stop you getting the ball into feet or to hurry you in your decision making.
“Highbury was a tight pitch as well, so I enjoyed playing against him more at Old Trafford than at Highbury. It wasn’t really a winger’s dream.
“I had many battles with him over the years. [He was] intelligent, quick, brave and also, he made you run back as well. Very often the toughest opponents I’ve played against — Cafu, [Javier] Zanetti — they were the players who’d make you work as well, make you run back.”
Giggs added that Dixon now jokes about the United legend’s expressionless face when he played.
The Welsh wizard was known for his work ethic and focus off the pitch and clearly that translated to facing tough opponents on the pitch for United.
Giggs added: “I’ve since done TV with Lee Dixon and the thing he always says about me is ‘you were a nightmare to play against, because I could never read you, you never reacted. If I kicked you, your face stayed the same. If you went past me, your face was still the same’.
“So I never really wanted to get involved with the full-back.”