Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has revealed that the two Manchester United players he hated the most were Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville.
The Englishman enjoyed some bright moments against Man United, scoring six times, but had to watch on as the aforementioned pair collected a litany of Premier League titles.
He moved on to LA Galaxy in 2015 and now works alongside Ferdinand as a pundit on BT Sport, while Neville, following a forgettable stint as manager of Valencia, commentates for Sky Sports.
And Gerrard, reflecting on his playing days, noted that Ferdinand and Neville were always the two players he hated more than anyone.
“When you meet up for England at that time, you pretend you like them, but your career finishes, their career finishes and your friendship starts for real.
“I’ve got nothing but respect for Rio as a player, he played for a top club all his life, he’s a good fella as well. I’m enjoying the role at BT with him as well.”
We are slowly but surely moving away from a golden age in the rivalry between Liverpool and Man United: Gerrard and Jamie Carragher versus Neville, Ferdinand and Roy Keane captured a primitive sort of hatred, a real nasty edge, that now eludes football at the highest level.
They were special players not for their ability but indeed for what they brought to the pitch. The will to win went far, far beyond three points. Even those in the stands didn’t matter, you sense. This was a war played out in the tunnel, on the turf, and sometimes in post-match interviews.
Whether supporters will ever witness such an authentic, personal rivalry ever again remains to be seen.