Sylvain Distin has been reflecting on the players he has faced in his career and has picked out Alan Shearer as his most difficult opponent.

It is easy to forget that the French defender played a key role in the transformation season under Sir Bobby Robson, with Sylvain Distin making 35 appearances in his one year loan from PSG.

That 2001/02 season saw Newcastle United finish fourth, with the Magpies actually leading the table at Christmas before fading late on.

However, whilst Alan Shearer and the rest of his Newcastle team-mates went on to finish third the next season and experience some great times in the Champions League, Sylvain Distin ended up at another Premier League club.

Amid rumours of Newcastle not being willing to pay the wages he was demanding, Distin went instead to newly promoted Manchester City and was their player of the year in his first season.

Considering the service he has given Manchester City, Portsmouth, Everton and even Bournemouth at the age of 38 now, he would have saved Newcastle an awful lot of money if they’d managed to keep him at the club.

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As for Alan Shearer, Distin says ‘his determination is amazing’ and that he never enjoyed playing against the legendary number 9 because ‘he is really tough, really strong’.

Plus of course Alan Shearer scored a few goals…

Sylvain Distin talking to BBC Sport about his toughest ever opponent:

“It is difficult because I’ve played against so many…but I am going to say the one who impressed me the most and the one that made me possibly a bit starstruck, was Alan Shearer.

“He is not really gifted technically, or does step overs – but his determination is amazing.

“He always finished in the top three goalscorers, season after season.

“He is someone that inspired me a lot and I had a lot of respect for him when I arrived, and still do now.

“When I played against him I didn’t enjoy it, he is really tough, really strong.

“To me Alan Shearer represents my idea of football and of a footballer.”