Rio Ferdinand recounts what he said to Pepe following Porto’s Champions League defeat against Arsenal

According to, Rio Ferdinand spoke up about his chat with Porto captain Pepe following the team’s 1-0 loss against Arsenal, expressing his disbelief that the defender was still able to play Champions League football at the age of 40. Pepe, a former Real Madrid player, became the oldest outfield player to start a Champions League knockout match (40 years and 360 days old) as his Porto team defeated Arsenal at the Estadio do Dragao.

Lamine Yamal became the youngest starter in the history of the competition’s knockout phase (16 years and 223 days old) in Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Napoli the following night. The veteran Portugal center-back, who turns 41 on Monday, kept the likes of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli quiet before Galeno beat David Raya with a long-range drive in the fourth minute of injury time.

It leaves the last-16 tie precariously poised ahead of the clubs’ second encounter at the Emirates on March 12, with Mikel Arteta looking unhappy at the end, while Pepe and his Porto teammates left dreaming of the quarter-finals. Ferdinand met up with Pepe on the touchline shortly after the game ended, and the former Manchester United centre-back revealed what he told the Porto captain on TNT Sports.

‘They were guided by the man in there. I believe he will be 41 years old on Monday. Ferdinand stated, “It’s ridiculous to think about how he’s getting his body through.” ‘That’s what I was saying to him, “How are you doing this?!” And he was like, “I’m still strong!”He still has confidence. ‘A lot of it, Martin Keown stated it off-air, was on my thoughts at the time.’

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Mikel Arteta was angry, claiming his team lacked ‘aggression’ and ‘threat’ in possession against Sergio Conceicao’s men. ‘Obviously, we need to handle lot better,’ Arteta told TNT Sports following Arsenal’s defeat. ‘We can’t win with how we handled the ball on three occasions in deep areas; it’s not good enough.

‘If you want to make the quarter-finals, you must beat your opponent, and that is exactly what we will have to accomplish at the Emirates today. We lacked threats. We lacked aggressiveness, particularly with the ball in the last third. We can do better.

The Spaniard lauded Porto for successfully shutting off Arsenal’s attacking potency with a strong defence throughout the 90 minutes.

‘I believe it’s a really well-organised defensive squad, and they constantly disrupt your flow,’ he continued. ‘There are some things we will need to do considerably better, and we know what to expect.’

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