Despite the long rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, both players still have a lot of respect for each other. In fact, a complimentary comment made by the Argentine about Ronaldo in the past has recently been doing the rounds of the internet again.
Messi and Ronaldo are widely considered to be two of the greatest footballers of all time given their incredible achievements over the years. The two have set a handful of records that could well stand the test of time.
Messi and Ronaldo share a combined total of 12 Ballon d'Or awards between them, all of which were won between 2008-2021. The Argentine ace has won seven of them while the Portuguese forward has five.
The two have dominated both European and world football for years. It wouldn't be out of place to say that it would be difficult to see a football rivalry that comes close to theirs in the future.
But the two players still maintain a professional relationship off the pitch, and they shower praise on each other at every given opportunity.
One such moment was in 2013 during the European Golden Shoe award ceremony. Argentina captain Messi, who was at Barcelona at the time, was quick to acknowledge his rival Ronaldo for his remarkable goal-scoring prowess.
The now Paris Saint-Germain forward said:
“He [Ronaldo] is always there scoring goals in all the games and taking part in his club and the national side. He has been doing that for many years and whether he is at his peak or a bit below, it makes no difference.”
Both football veterans are currently in the twilight of their remarkable careers. Messi is currently with French giants Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), while Ronaldo is facing a new challenge in Saudi Arabia with Al-Nassr.
Remembering when Johan Cruyff had his say on the Messi vs Ronaldo debate
Johan Cruyff is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time due to his contributions to football.
The late Dutch legend left a long-standing legacy both as a player and as a coach. While he was alive, he also weighed in on the much-heated GOAT debate between Messi and Ronaldo.
Cruyff, however, did pick the Argentine captain over his arch-rival Ronaldo. He said (via Give Me Sport):
"Leo is much more of a team player than Cristiano is. He scores but also produces many assists. For me as a player, Leo is better. There is a big difference in just being a great goalscorer and being the best player."
"Every person that understands football knows this. It’s absolutely ridiculous to me that some people actually think Leo isn’t the best. This isn’t about Cristiano at all. He’s a fantastic player, one of the best goalscorers ever. It’s about how ridiculously good Leo is.”
Cruyff died in Match 2016, but his legacy as both a player and a coach still lives on. He won the prestigious Ballon d'Or three times as a player and is a major proponent of the "Total football" philosophy in coaching.