Woody bigs up The Beast
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Jonathan Woodgate is predicting a big future in England for ex-Real Madrid team-mate Julio Baptista.
The duo both departed El Santiago Bernabeu in transfer deadline week for England, with Baptista signing for Arsenal and Woodgate heading for his hometown club Middlesbrough.
In a twist of fate, the pair are due to meet as they make their respective debuts on Saturday as Boro travel to The Emirates Stadium.
Woodgate is now tipping the player nicknamed The Beast, to make a big impact in The Premiership.
"I wouldn't say he is a beast as a person but on the field he is a big lad - without a doubt - and that's why they say it. He's built like Mike Tyson!" Woodgate told The Sun.
"Baptista and Thierry Henry will be some partnership. It will be a massive test for me but you can't do it on your own. It will be down to the whole team.
"It's a hard task whoever faces Henry because he is such a good player and a gentleman as well.
"We'll have our hands full because they are two world-class strikers.
"I've always thought Julio would suit The Premiership with his strength and pace and I think he will be a fantastic player for Arsenal."
Woodgate last played in England two years ago with Newcastle and his appearance has changed somewhat - but he says he is yet to receive any remarks over his new look.
"I haven't had any funny comments about my haircut yet off the lads but if I make a mistake I bet I would," he said.
"I don't mind the hair and I've no plans to get it cut at the moment.
"I'm just enjoying being back in my home town Middlesbrough and it's good to be back in The Premiership. In my opinion it's the best league in the world.
"The last time I played Arsenal is all forgotten about because I just get on with it. But it only seems like two minutes ago that I was signing for Real Madrid, not two years ago.
"All my problems are forgotten and now I'll just get on with my life with Middlesbrough.
"I'm not going to tempt fate about my first game back in The Premiership but I will say that I feel good and in training I've felt sharp. Hopefully it will be like I've never been away.
"It depends who you're playing against but the pace in England is much faster than in the Spanish league.
"If you look at every team in The Premiership they've all got outstanding forwards so every game from a defensive point of view is going to be very hard.
"It'll be the first time playing at the Emirates for a lot of the players and I've heard it's a fantastic ground.
"The atmosphere is different in England. It will be great to be back - and I'll be able to understand what people are shouting at me! We'll go and work hard and hopefully get something."