Cristiano Ronaldo sheds light on his rivalry with Lionel Messi

The two football greats competed at the highest stage for over 15 years

By Web Desk
September 07, 2023
Cristiano Ronaldo (R) says rivalry days with Lionel Messi (L) are over — UEFA

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, arguably the two greatest footballers of all time, have competed with each other for over 15 years on the biggest stage in football and made millions fall in love with the beautiful game.

Not just that, both players also took their teams to unimaginable glory and put up numbers that were never witnessed before.

After dominating the football world for over 15 years, both players decided to end their journey in Europe and are now enjoying the later days of their careers in Saudia Arabia and the United States.

Ronaldo, 38, joined Saudi club Al-Nassr on a big-money contract in January this year while Messi started his journey with the Major League Soccer (MLS) club Inter Miami in July 2023.

On September 6 (Wednesday), Messi got his 16th nomination for the Ballon d'Or — the highest individual award for a footballer — while Ronaldo, after having 18 nominations, missed out.

Opening up about his rivalry with the World Cup winner, Ronaldo remembered the time he shared with the 36-year-old for 15 years.

“Those who like Cristiano Ronaldo don't have to hate Messi and vice versa," he said.

"We've done well, we have changed the history of football. We are respected all over the world, that's the most important thing.

"He's followed his path and I have followed mine, regardless of playing outside of Europe. From what I've seen, he's been doing well and so have I.

"The legacy lives on, but I don't see the rivalry like that. We shared the stage many times, it was 15 years. I'm not saying we're friends, I've never had dinner with him, but we're professional colleagues and we respect each other."

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner then talked about his move to the Middle East which opened the way for some of the biggest transfers this summer.

“I knew this was going to happen, I said it six months ago and everyone thought I was the crazy one,” he said.

"But, after all, the crazy guy is not that crazy, and it turns out to be normal to play in the Arab league.

"For me, it was a great privilege to change the culture of a country in terms of football and to have great stars go to Saudi Arabia.

"I was the pioneer, and I am proud of it. What I want most is to continue to always evolve, so that it [the league] is top notch."