Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo possess one of the most storied rivalries in football – and sport – history, the intensity of their competitiveness beginning in 2019 when the Portugal striker moved to Real Madrid in 2009.
Ronaldo’s move to Juventus in 2018 effectively ended the rivalry, but they are still considered to be the two best forwards in world football, the two still pitted against one another for the title of the one true GOAT.
The two forwards have dominated the Ballon d’Or awards in recent years, with Messi scooping up six of the awards and Ronaldo winning five. But do they get along off the pitch?
10 things Cristiano Ronaldo has said about Lionel Messi…
1. “I don’t care if Messi wins the Ballon d’Or. I know that it is not in my hands whether I win this award or not. It all depends on others. I have always remained the same over the past eight years of my career. I have always played at a very high level. Name me one other player in the history of the game who has done the same.” (2015)
2. “This game we play is about the team, not individuals. This final is not about me and Messi,” said Ronaldo. “It is between Manchester United and Barcelona. Both are winners of their national titles, and I predict that it will be a spectacular duel.”(2009)
3. “Sometimes (the comparisons with Messi) makes me tired … for him too because they compare us together all the time. You can’t compare a Ferrari and a Porsche, because they have different engines.”(2012)
4. “In terms of my relationship with Messi,” he says, “I’m not his friend, but we are colleagues. We’ve shared a lot of moments together in premieres over the last 10 years and I have a very good relationship with him. We don’t sit down to eat together, but I respect him. He’s a work colleague, not a rival.”(2017)
5. “I don’t have rivalries against players, I never have. That’s not in my ethics. Juventus will try to win every game and be as regular as possible. It was a beautiful challenge with Messi; they liked it and it was interesting. But I didn’t see it as a rivalry.”(2018)
6. “How many players are capable of playing at the highest level for more than 10 years? You count them on one hand. There are two, Messi and I.”(2018)
7. “The difference with me is that I’ve played for different clubs, and I also won the Champions League with different clubs. I was the top scorer in the Champions League six times in a row,” said Ronaldo.(2019)
8. “I’d like him to come to Italy one day. I hope he accepts the challenge like me, but if he’s happy there then I respect that,” said Ronaldo to the Italian press. (2018)
9. “I really admire the career he has had and from his side, he has already talked of the disappointment when I left Spain because it was a rivalry that he appreciated. It’s a good rivalry but it’s not unique — Michael Jordan had rivalries in basketball, there was Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in Formula 1.” (2020)
10. “Leo and me shared the last twelve, thirteen or fourteen years of our lives. “I’ve always had a cordial relationship with him, I never saw him as a rival. It’s the press that creates the rivalry. If you ask Leo, he’ll tell you the same thing. It’s always beautiful to play against him. Obviously people will talk about our rivalry when we meet, but for me it’s just a great privilege.” (2020)