Rooney reiterated his belief that Messi stands above Ronaldo as the greatest player of all time during the World Cup.
Wayne Rooney has said his praise for Lionel Messi is not a way of putting down former Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
On Twitter, Rooney quote tweeted a message he posted in 2012 about Messi being ‘the best ever’ after seeing Argentina make the World Cup final, adding: “Nothing has changed”.
That said, while Rooney’s relationship with Ronaldo has turned sour recently after the former’s public criticism over the latter, he insists his praise for Messi is not a dig toward CR7.
“Some took that as a put-down to Cristiano Ronaldo but nothing could be further from the truth. I have the greatest respect for Cristiano and when people argue he is the greatest, I know where they are coming from and respect that opinion. But, for me, Messi is just different,” Rooney wrote in The Times.
“I played against him several times and it’s his ability to take and hold the ball, to control games, run at players, pass and score and be the difference. Close up, you just can’t get near him. He is always in control. If he has the ball at his feet, he determines everything, your decision-making included. Being his opponent is a difficult place to be.”
Nothing has changed. 🤷🏻♂️🐐 https://t.co/j5GjcKto13
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) December 14, 2022
Rooney doubles down on his Messi praise
The DC United manager played three times against Messi as a Manchester United player, twice in the Champions League final and once in the semi-finals.
On what makes Messi a tricky opponent, Rooney said: “You want to go and press him but know that if you do, you’re not going to win the ball. There are times you can tackle him, like when he is dribbling directly at you, but usually, you’re just not going to dispossess him. You’re bigger than him but can’t use your power against him.
“A difference between Messi and nearly every other player who dribbles is that he’s always moving. There is almost never a point when he stops on the ball. He takes off with it and if his path is blocked, he’ll pass the ball to get it back. You go and press and he pops it off and then you might switch off and at that moment he comes alive.
“You see it happening a lot: he passes, the defender gets lazy for a split second, and Messi takes the return pass and is away. And it takes so much to deal with him that it’s tiring. He wears you down until he becomes almost impossible to stop.”
Rooney again took to Twitter on Sunday to congratulate Messi and Argentina for winning the World Cup final against France.
What a game. For me the the best ever #WorldCupFinal. Great effort from France but congratulations goes to Argentina, a proper team effort. @FIFAWorldCup #Qatar22
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) December 18, 2022