“A player that played at a top Premier League club and didn’t get the plaudits of others was Michael Essien at Chelsea in those first two or three years,” Neville said on Sky Sports.
“The impact he had on that team, from his running ability, the energy from midfield, balancing of Frank, I thought Essien was a brilliant player.”
Essien became Chelsea’s record signing when the club forked out £24.4 million to price him away from Lyon in 2005.
He spent almost a decade at Stamford Bridge, helping the Blues to win multiple Premier League and FA Cup titles, as well as the UEFA Champions League in 2012.
In 2020, Essien picked Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard as the toughest opponents he faced during his career.
Essien’s trophy-laden stint at Stamford Bridge saw him face off with some of the world’s best players, both in England and across Europe.
However, discussing the toughest players he has played against, the 39-year-old picked Scholes and Gerrard.
According to him, the two English midfielders were not just good passers of the ball, but were equally great tacklers.
“It’s between Steven Gerard and Paul Scholes,” Essien said when asked about the subject by South African sports journalist Carol Tshabalala.
“Those two players were quite tough to play against. They were not only good on the ball but they could tackle really hard. They were really tough but the Premier League was much more tough compared to now.”
“Every team you come up against was difficult so you have to try to be tougher.”
Essien’s football career started with Ghanaian side Liberty Professionals, but he progressed to play for the likes of Chelsea, Real Madrid and AC Milan.