Rio Ferdinand reckons it’s a blessing to live in the era of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who he believes have long since booked their spots as one of football’s all-time greats.
The iconic duo have been the ruling forces in world football for over a decade now following record-breaking careers, which has seen them both collect five Ballon d’Ors and reach feats that were previously unimaginable.
Although the long-held debate as to who is the best out of the pair has continued to generate many arguments among players, coaches, pundits, and even fans.
Messi himself gave a very revealing interview on his relationship with Ronaldo at the end of last month, where he confessed that his respect towards the Portuguese and expressed his belief they both remain the world’s best.
But Ferdinand, who was teammates with a young Ronaldo in his early days at Manchester United, believes people should stop comparing the pair and instead simply relish what they’re witnessing.
“We are blessed that we are in the presence of these two amazing footballers and it doesn’t matter if you think one is better than the other at this stage,” the ex-defender told Goal.
“They are both just ridiculous talents and what puts them so far ahead of everyone else is their mental strength. That area of their game never ceases to amaze me and separates them from everyone else. It is something I marvel at, definitely.
“To consistently want to do what they have done at that level for so long is not something many people have and, when you throw in their talent, it’s an incredible combination.
“The joy for us as viewers is watching this incredible battle between two great players who are clearly being driven on by the fact they are playing in the same era of the game.
“If Ronaldo scores a hat-trick one night in the Champions League, you just know Messi will follow up the next night with a hat-trick of his own or some kind of crazy goal that only he can score.
“It’s great TV and we should relish it. I think these two have definitely been driven on by each other and we have seen examples of how this works in other sports as well.
“Rodger Federer and Rafael Nadal are examples of two incredible sporting talents that have had to go to the next level and the next level because they are pushing each other on.
“It was the same when (John) McEnroe and (Bjorn) Borg were at the top of tennis. They have always had someone to compete with. Muhammad Ali with Joe Frazer and George Foreman pushing him is another example.
“What Ronaldo and Messi are doing is just amazing, but I’m not surprised to see Cristiano at this level. From the moment we saw him at United, all of us in the dressing room said he was going to be the best player in the world and that is what he became.
“What’s amazing with these two is they have not just been the best player in the world for one or two years, which was the norm up to this point. They have been the best players in the world for 10 and 12 years, which is ridiculous.”