Ronaldo and Messi have been competing against each other for over 15 years.
Both players have led their respective teams to unprecedented success.
Ronaldo has relocated to Saudi Arabia, while Messi has joined Inter Miami in the MLS.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, arguably the two greatest footballers of all time, have competed against each other for more than 15 years on the grandest stage in football, captivating millions with their mastery of the beautiful game.
Moreover, both players have led their respective teams to unprecedented success and achieved statistical milestones that were previously unimaginable.
After dominating the football scene for over 15 years, both players have chosen to conclude their European careers and are now enjoying the latter stages of their professional journeys in Saudi Arabia and the United States.
At the age of 38, Ronaldo signed a lucrative contract with Saudi club Al-Nassr in January of this year, while Messi embarked on his new adventure with the Major League Soccer (MLS) team Inter Miami in July 2023.
On Wednesday, September 6, Messi received his 16th Ballon d’Or nomination, which is the most prestigious individual award in football. Meanwhile, Ronaldo, who has been nominated 18 times, did not make the list this time.
Reflecting on his rivalry with the World Cup winner, Ronaldo fondly recalled the 15-year period he shared with the 36-year-old.
“Those who like Cristiano Ronaldo don’t have to hate Messi and vice versa,” he said.
“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.”
The recipient of five Ballon d’Or awards subsequently discussed his relocation to the Middle East, which paved the way for several major transfers during this summer.
“I knew this was going to happen, I said it six months ago and everyone thought I was the crazy one,” he said.
“But, after all, the crazy guy is not that crazy, and it turns out to be normal to play in the Arab league.
“For me, it was a great privilege to change the culture of a country in terms of football and to have great stars go to Saudi Arabia.
“I was the pioneer, and I am proud of it. What I want most is to continue to always evolve, so that it [the league] is top notch.”