The football world has been captivated by the rivalry between two of the greatest players of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
For 15 years, these football legends have held sway at the pinnacle of the sport. Their duel for supremacy began with Ronaldo clinching his first Ballon d’Or in 2008, followed closely by Messi in 2009. This rivalry, often dubbed the “GOAT debate,” has fueled countless debates among fans and pundits.
Both Ronaldo and Messi left an indelible mark on European football, but their paths took a surprising turn in recent months. Ronaldo departed Manchester United to join Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League in January, while Messi made the switch to Inter Miami in the MLS in July after winning the 2022 World Cup with Argentina.
In a recent press conference for the Portuguese national team [reported by ESPN Sports Center], Ronaldo addressed the long-standing debate. He stated, “If you like Cristiano, you are not obligated to dislike Messi. We’ve both changed the history of football and are respected.”
Cristiano Ronaldo further emphasized that the rivalry between them has come to an end, acknowledging, “The rivalry between us is over. We shared the stage for 15 years. I’m not saying we’re friends, but we respect each other.”
The turning point in their rivalry is attributed to Messi’s historic achievements. Leading Argentina to victory at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and winning the 2023 Leagues Cup with Inter Miami, Messi became the most decorated footballer in history, with 44 trophies to his name, surpassing the legendary Dani Alves.