Cristiano Ronaldo has declared that his rivalry with Lionel Messi is over, insisting that their time ‘is gone’ with both stars now playing in different continents.
Messi and Ronaldo shared the stage for more than a decade in their respective careers, sharing a total of 12 Ballon d’Or awards between them in 13 years while they were at Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Ronaldo’s move to Juventus saw an end to their meetings in La-Liga back in 2019, before a move to Saudi Arabia in January 2023, with Messi later making a switch to Inter Miami this season. Both of them now play on different continents.
Speaking of how their duopoly was a treat for adoring fans across the world at a recent press conference, Ronaldo was full of praise for his one-time rival, claiming that the pair have great mutual respect.
‘Hatred? I don’t see things like that, the rivalry is gone,’ Ronaldo said when asked if fans who love him have to hate Messi. ‘It was good, spectators liked it.
‘Those who like Cristiano Ronaldo don’t have to hate Messi and vice versa. We’ve done well, we have changed the history of football. We are respected all over the world, that’s the most important thing.
‘He’s followed his path and I have followed mine, regardless of playing outside of Europe. From what I’ve seen, he’s been doing well and so have I. The legacy lives on, but I don’t see the rivalry like that.
‘We shared the stage many times, it was 15 years. I’m not saying we’re friends, I’ve never had dinner with him, but we’re professional colleagues and we respect each other.’
Both Ronaldo and Messi are widely regarded as the greatest to have ever played the game, with the latter joining the exclusive group of players to have won the Champions League, World Cup and Ballon d’Or in December.
Between them, they have won 79 trophies, and are the only two to have scored over 800 goals. Ronaldo netted his 850th on Saturday against Al-Hazm for Al-Nassr.
‘It’s a historic landmark,’ Ronaldo, 38, said of his achievement. ‘For me it was a source of pride the numbers I achieved, which I didn’t think I could reach.
‘But I want more. While playing the game, the bar has to be high, thinking big.’