Who is the real GOAT? Check it out as we give you FIVE football legends who have said that Cristiano Ronaldo is better than Lionel Messi.
The Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi debate has been the biggest one of modern age. Everyone wants to know who is the greatest of all time (GOAT), but can never quite decide.
The pair have ruled the football world for a long time, and they’ve shattered countless records. A combined total of 11 Ballon d’Ors between them isn’t enough to sum it all up.
Although the eternal rivalry came to light once again on Friday when Angel Di Maria gave Messi his vote. Therefore, we are back to square one again with some agreeing and others disagreeing.
So following these events, it’s time to check out the Top 5 football legends who believe that Ronaldo surpasses Messi as the GOAT.
The six-time Serie A champion is a Juventus icon and a firm fan favourite despite leaving three decades ago.
Most importantly, though, Antonio Cabrini isn’t shy for giving out his true opinions in football.
And the 1982 World Cup winner believes that Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s best player and a true leader, unlike Lionel Messi.
“Ronaldo is probably the best player in the world,” said Cabrini, according to Fox Sports.
“Obviously the focus in football over the last 10 years has been on the rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo.”
“My personal opinion is that Ronaldo is better than Messi, but mainly in terms of leadership. Ronaldo has proven himself to be a real leader on a lot of occasions and not just on the pitch. He is a leader in his life as well as in sports.”
“So with all due respect to Messi, there have been a few instances in his career that he came up short,” Cabrini explained.
“That being said, we are speaking about two great players, I think we can all agree on that.”
Unlike Cabrini, Totti has first-hand experience of going up against Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch.
The AS Roma legend has faced him on five occasions in the Champions League between 2007 and 2016. However, he never had the honour of going toe-to-toe with Lionel Messi during his career.
Nonetheless, Totti had seen enough from Ronaldo alone to know that Messi and Neymar aren’t his equals.
“We are talking about three footballing aliens [Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar],” said Totti, according to Tribuna.
“I think that, in the end, Ronaldo is ahead of the others.”
The 2006 World Cup winner retired from football in 2017.
Thierry Henry (in 2009 only)
This one probably came as a kick in the teeth for Lionel Messi.
For Henry was Messi’s Barcelona teammate when he announced that Cristiano Ronaldo is the better player in 2009.
This was during the early stages of the rivalry as things heated up between the pair.
Ronaldo won the first round by taking home the 2008 Ballon d’Or in December before picking up the FIFA World Player of the Year award a month later.
So Henry, who played against the then-Manchester United star countless times in England, accepted Ronaldo was No.1.
“First of all, you have to take into account that Leo [Messi] and Cristiano Ronaldo are different players,” said Henry in 2009, as quoted by Goal.
“For sure they can play on any position from the midfield up, they both have extraordinary technique, but they are different.
“And, if Messi is scoring more goals nowadays, Ronaldo is a player that has scored more and topped the scoring charts last season.
“Then, the greatness of a player is measured by the titles he has helped his team conquer. Therefore, I have to recognise that Cristiano Ronaldo is better than Leo Messi.”
NOTE: We should note that Henry has labelled Messi the better player in his more recent interviews.
Perhaps the Barca chiefs had a quiet word…
Next up in the GOAT debate is a Real Madrid legend called Roberto Carlos.
The Brazilian full-back had an incredible from 1991 to 2015, which included spells with Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
He also played alongside some of the greatest players that the game has ever seen in Ronaldo Nazario and Ronaldinho.
For Carlos, though, CR7’s professionalism and determination was something special even for someone like him. Therefore, he had no doubts who the GOAT title belonged to.
“These days, when you talk about football, you talk about Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo,” Carlos told Fox Sports in 2017 as quoted by Goal.
“Cristiano has worked to improve. When you talk about the Ballon d’Or or any other prize, it’s not just any person who votes, it’s people who know football, who follow the stats of the players and pick the best in the world.
“I watch him train every day and the way he works is exciting. He wants to improve every day.
“That’s the difference with Messi. Leo is a phenomenon, we never talk about Neymar… but that side of Cristiano, of training, professionalism, focus, motivation, success… Cristiano has an advantage over all the others.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
The last one to enter the GOAT debate is Fergie.
Manchester United’s legendary coach was a father-figure for Ronaldo during his early days. His confidence and tutelage helped Cristiano become the formidable player he today.
But Ferguson feels what sets his old star player apart from Lionel Messi is his incredible work ethic, and the ability to amaze even for small teams.
“It’s interesting to me that we hear so much about two players these days: Ronaldo and Messi,” said Ferguson, as quoted by the Independent.
“Now don’t get me wrong, Messi is a fantastic player, it’s like he’s wearing slippers when he controls the ball. But here, for me, is the difference. Messi is a Barcelona player.
“But Ronaldo could play for Stockport County and score a hat-trick. He has everything. He can shoot with both feet, head the ball, he’s as brave as a lion, and here’s something else people overlook.
“During my time at Manchester United I was lucky enough to have a lot of people who put in countless extra hours to get better.
“Gary Neville turned himself from an average footballer into a wonderful one because of his work ethic, as did David Beckham.
“But Ronaldo used to completely exhaust himself, and still does. He just wanted to be the best in the world.”