Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the game of football (and the sporting world) for over a decade. The massive influence the pair have was confirmed in a recent meeting between Ronaldo’s former teammate Edwin van der Sar and Pakistani cricketer Shadab Khan.
Khan and other cricketers recently paid a visit to Ajax, where the former Manchester United shot stopper now works as the director of football.
While visiting the reigning Dutch champions, an ensuing conversation saw Khan point to his friend and captain Babar Azam to say (via GeoTV):
“He is Cristiano [Ronaldo] and Messi, mixture [of both].”
This represented high praise for the Pakistani captain, who is one of the finest cricketers on the planet. Even more, the comment was proof of the global reach of football, which has continued to gain wide support in Southern Asia.
While Messi and Ronaldo are now in the twilight of their careers, it seems that their impressive performances have helped secure them global recognition.
Azam will have to live up to the comparison his friend and teammate has made, but the Pakistani captain will likely be up to the challenge as he hopes to gain more sporting success.
Neither Messi nor Ronaldo are Ballon d'Or favorites, for the first time in decades
Last season was less than remarkable for the two greats who took football to a new level in their youth. There is perhaps no greater sign that they are past their prime than the most recent Ballon d'Or rankings.
Before 2021, the last time the Portuguese forward did not feature on the podium was 2010, and chances are he won't feature again. For his Argentine counterpart, 2022 will be the first time Messi won't even make the top 30 list since 2005.
The duopoly that both players have maintained for over a decade started to dip with Luka Modric's win in 2018. The Portuguese star has made the list this year. However, after a poor showing with Manchester United last season, he is not expected to win or even get to the podium this time around.
With neither of the duo potentially on the podium when the Ballon d'Or is held this October, this year arguably marks the end of an era for football.