Vieira reveals respect for Keane

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The Independent Football

Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira has named long-time Manchester United adversary Roy Keane as one of the best players he has ever played against.

Vieira and Keane, now manager of Sunderland, clashed regularly as their two clubs battled it out for Premier League supremacy.

They most famously squared up to each other in the tunnel before a game at Highbury in February 2005 - which United went on to win 4-2 - and had to be pulled apart by referee Graham Poll.

But when asked to name the best player he has had to face, Vieira, who now plays for Inter Milan, told Ford's Feel Football programme: "For me, being in England for nine years, I would have said Roy Keane. (He) is really tough, really strong, but he was fair.

"What I like about him is the fact that he would not talk, he would take the kick, he would not say anything, then, on the next one, he would give it to you and he would expect, of course, that you say nothing.

"He's not the kind of player who talks a lot. So he'll take the kick, he will give back, but I like him - he's quite fair."

Vieira also revealed his admiration for Keane's former central midfield partner at Old Trafford, Paul Scholes.

Speaking in conversation with former Bayern Munich player Stefan Effenberg, he said: "One that may surprise you is (Paul) Scholes - because I never knew how to mark him.

"This guy is really clever - he can play one touch, two touches - so it's really difficult to get to him at the right time to try to get the ball. I would have said he's one of the tough players I had to face because by the time you get to him the ball is gone already.

"Steven Gerrard has also been a terrific player to play against."