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Former Ballon d'Or winner gives his verdict on Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi debate

16 Mar 2019, 10:07 IST

FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2014
FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2014

What's the story?

Dutch football legend and 1987 Ballon d'Or winner Ruud Gullit has weighed in on the longstanding debate surrounding Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona ace Lionel Messi. explaining why he thinks one of them is the greatest of all time.

In case you didn't know...

Both Ronaldo and Messi have taken the game to new, unprecedented heights in the last decade, as a result of which the pair has been put at the center of football's hotly debated 'greatest of all time' question.

Recently, the two five-time Ballon d'Or winning stars led their team to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a stroke of individual magic.

Ronaldo single-handedly overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit by scoring a record hat-trick to eliminate Atletico Madrid from the competition. Meanwhile, Messi netted two goals and provided two assists to help Barcelona triumph over Lyon in the second leg of the round-of-16 fixture.

The pair currently share the record for the most hat-tricks in the Champions League with eight trebles each as well.

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The heart of the matter

Despite Messi's achievements, former AC Milan man Gullit has picked Ronaldo as his 'greatest of all time', stating that the Portuguese has managed to win titles in different leagues as opposed to his Argentine counterpart who continues to stay in the Spanish top flight.

Speaking to beIN SPORTS (via Daily Star), he said, "I think he is [the greatest of all time]. He won also with his country, European Championship. He has done it with all the clubs he has been at, Champions League also with Man United."


"He’s been in three different countries, best footballer all the time. He won how many times the Golden Ball? Five times, six times? What he achieved for any team he’s played for is unbelievable. Messi couldn’t do it with Argentina, he’s been close. But it counts if you also do that."

"Messi also can be there with all the best footballers but it’s a little bit the icing on the cake the fact that he played in three different countries and he’s done it."

"He did it his way and you can only say ‘bow for this guy’ and say what a player, unbelievable. They all admire him for his work ethic, even now. He’s wanting to be more fit."

What's next?

While Juventus have been drawn to face Ajax in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Barcelona will lock horns with Manchester United.

However, Juventus and Barcelona next face Genoa and Real Betis in their respective leagues.

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