There's nobody Bastian Schweinsteiger (r.) would rather have by his side than Bayern Munich pair Manuel Neuer (l.) and Franck Ribery (c.). - © imago/Sven Simon
There's nobody Bastian Schweinsteiger (r.) would rather have by his side than Bayern Munich pair Manuel Neuer (l.) and Franck Ribery (c.). - © imago/Sven Simon
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Former Bayern Munich ace Bastian Schweinsteiger: "Manuel Neuer and Franck Ribery are the best I've ever played with"

Bastian Schweinsteiger has played alongside some true greats during a storied career, but the Chicago Fire midfielder rates former Bayern Munich teammates Manuel Neuer and Franck Ribery the highest of the lot.

Schweinsteiger spent 17 years at Bayern, enjoying his finest hour at club level in 2012/13 when a team including the likes of goalkeeper Neuer and winger Ribery - each regarded as one of the best to have played the game in their respective positions - won an unprecedented Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup treble.

He and Neuer also played in the same Germany side that lifted the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

"The best players I ever played with are Manuel Neuer and Franck Ribery," Schweinsteiger told Marca, with barely a moment's hesitation.

"I don't know how to tell you this, but I think you're incredible." Bastian Schweinsteiger and Manuel Neuer (l-r.) shared countless career highs for club and country. - imago/Bernd Kˆnig

Schweinsteiger, 34, needed more time to deliberate over his toughest opponents, however.

"I always appreciated the game of Angel Di Maria," he said of the now Paris-Saint Germain winger. "I remember the semi-final we lost 4-0 at home [to Real Madrid]. He was the best, so difficult to stop."

While Di Maria was the standout in his last meeting between Bayern and Madrid in the 2013/14 Champions League semi-finals, Schweinsteiger also remembers an earlier clash with Real and the performance of Zinedine Zidane, in particular.

"I remember perfectly the first time, in 2003, at the Bernabeu," he recalled. "I came on in the second half and played against Zidane, who scored a good goal five minutes later. They won 1-0.

"Playing against Zizou helped me a lot later because I watched how he moved and protected the ball. It was impossible to replicate it though, yet I did learn a lot from those things."

Zinedine Zidane and "arch rivals" Real Madrid left a big impression on a young Bastian Schweinsteiger. - imago/MIS

Schweinsteiger's glowing CV attests to that. After joining Bayern at the age of 13, he went on to make 342 Bundesliga appearances for the record champions, winning a joint-record eight Bundesliga titles.

He moved to English Premier League giants Manchester United in summer 2015, before linking up with MLS side Chicago Fire in March 2017.