- They’ve achieved unprecedented success and record-breaking stats in Europe.
- Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, Messi signed with Inter Miami in MLS.
- Messi received his 16th Ballon d’Or nomination; Ronaldo missed out after 18.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, often hailed as the two greatest footballers of all time, have engaged in a captivating rivalry that has spanned more than 15 years, captivating millions of fans worldwide and leaving an indelible mark on the beautiful game. Both players have achieved unparalleled success, elevating their respective teams to unprecedented levels of glory and setting records that had never before been witnessed. Despite their prolonged dominance in European football, they have recently embarked on new chapters in their illustrious careers, with Ronaldo, now 38, securing a lucrative contract with Saudi club Al-Nassr in January of this year, while Messi began his journey with Major League Soccer (MLS) club Inter Miami in July 2023.
On September 6th, Messi received his 16th Ballon d’Or nomination, the highest individual honor in football, while Ronaldo, with 18 nominations to his name, missed out on this occasion. Ronaldo, reflecting on his rivalry with the World Cup-winning Messi, emphasized the importance of fans appreciating both players without resorting to animosity. He stated, “Those who admire Cristiano Ronaldo don’t need to harbor ill feelings toward Messi, and vice versa. We have achieved great feats and altered the course of football history. Our reputation extends worldwide, and that’s what truly matters. He has followed his path, and I have followed mine, even if it means playing outside Europe. From what I’ve observed, he’s excelled, and so have I. The legacy endures, but I don’t view our relationship as a rivalry. We shared the stage for 15 years. While we may not be friends, we are professional colleagues who hold mutual respect.”
Ronaldo went on to discuss his move to the Middle East, which set the stage for some of the most significant transfers of the summer. He expressed confidence in his decision, saying, “I anticipated this move six months ago, and many deemed me eccentric for it. However, it turns out that the ‘eccentric’ choice has become a standard practice in playing in the Arab league. I take great pride in being a trailblazer and changing the football culture of a country. I’m thrilled to have attracted prominent football stars to Saudi Arabia. I served as a pioneer, and that’s something I’m immensely proud of. My primary aim is to continue evolving and ensuring that the league attains the highest standards.”
In essence, the enduring rivalry and mutual respect between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have shaped the football landscape for over a decade and a half. Their transitions to new leagues mark significant milestones in their careers, with both players aiming to continue making an impact on the global football stage. Despite the intense competition that characterized their on-field encounters, Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Arabia reflects his commitment to elevating the standards of football in the region and solidifying his legacy as one of the sport’s all-time greats.