Quotes on: Marcel Desailly and Lilian Thuram

Marcel Desailly

“I’ve played against him in the Premiership and he’s someone who could raise his game when he wanted to. He loved the big occasions. Whenever we used to play against him at Anfield he used to play so well that, to be honest, it was a case of men against boys.” — Jamie Carragher

“He is a monster! [ . . . ] he is an absolute monster! He can play in defence or midfield, but I think he is better as a centre-back. In fact, I’m sure of that. He has so much quality. Forwards simply couldn’t get past him because of his size, but he was smart and quick too.” — Laurent Blanc

“I’d have to say Marcel Desailly – when he wanted to be. He was as quick as anyone, as strong as anyone and he was pretty much a machine when he first came over. He was a beast to play against.” — Michael Owen (on the best defender he ever played against)

“When he came to Chelsea, he was a ‘proper’ player. With some defenders you think “he’s not strong”, “he’s not so quick” or whatever and try to play against that weakness. But Desailly was virtually impossible to play against. He was strong, quick, and good on the ball. People question whether he just played well in the big games, but I tried kicking him once and hurt my foot – which shows what sort of game I had against him!” — Michael Owen

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“Definitely the hardest player to come up against – it was nearly impossible to get past him because, for a player of his physique, he had incredible balance. It was always good to have him on your team, because he did the work of three men. He was so good that he filled his offensive players with confidence. You knew, with him on the pitch, you’d never get caught on the counter-attack.” — Brian Laudrup

“A very strong defender and excellent in the air, which is something you need. He also had the kind of pace and power that would frighten attackers into making a mistake. Not necessarily a leader, but a very experienced defender. He would complement Baresi well.” — Ruud Gullit

“‘The Rock’ was amazing. He was 
a nutcase, a winner and he came 
from a brilliant Milan side with 
a winning mentality, which we appreciated at Chelsea.” — Gus Poyet

“So powerful, like a rock. Marcel was one of the strongest players I have ever seen and the finished article as a defender. Had great positional awareness and you always felt secure with him next to you. Could also slot into midfield without any trouble.” — Albert Ferrer

“He’s got that aura of “I’m solid, I know that I’m solid, but I don’t need to be high-tempered because I know everyone else is scared of me.” He’s calm; he’s the Godfather.” — Frank Leboeuf

“Marcel was less of a leader, and more of a warrior. Desailly was a rock and a very fair player.” — Fabien Barthez

Lilian Thuram

“A great player and a wonderful friend. At the back he displays a rare mixture of elegance and professionalism. Not just an excellent defender, he can also be very dangerous when he goes forward as Croatia [in the 1998 World Cup] could certainly testify.” — Marcel Desailly

“He wasn’t the best player running with the ball, but for me he was certainly the best defender; you couldn’t pass him, it was impossible, he was a wall. Even if you came with two players and tried to pass him it was impossible, because he was very intelligent in reading the game. He was very powerful, very quick, and very very tough. [ . . . ] We could see that on the pitch, every time the opponent went into his area, they were a little frightened to be close to him because he was so tough.” — Emmanuel Petit

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“Thuram always made it difficult for United when we played Juventus in the Champions League. He was really sharp when moving the ball out from the back, but he was also very athletic, so he’d win a lot of headers and physical battles. But his experience made him great too. He could read games really well.” — Ryan Giggs

“The best right-back of the last ten years. He has a great awareness of the game around him and is always calm under pressure. He’s a player who links well and he doesn’t give attackers any space to operate in.” — Henrik Larsson (2003)

“He was a good guy; you could go into battle with him, he was an intelligent player. I used to get annoyed with him on the pitch. That happened a lot because I always wanted the ball off him. He was a calm player.” — Fabien Barthez

I learned from him the importance of positioning. No one wants to be marked by Thuram. They know the game is already halfway lost.” — Vincent Candela, former French international

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