Cristiano Ronaldo Explains Why ‘Healthy Rivalry’ With Lionel Messi Has Been Important in His Career

Juventus superstar and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo has credited his longstanding competition with Lionel Messi with driving him on to become the player he has, even labelling it a ‘healthy rivalry’.

From 2008 to 2017, Ronaldo and Messi exclusively won all 10 Ballon d’Or and/or FIFA awards between them, with each cementing themselves among the greatest players of all time.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo has now explained that their many years going head to head in Spain, when the Portuguese icon was with Real Madrid, were particularly important in terms of that, more so than when he had previously been at Manchester United.

“Being in front of each other in Spain allowed us to be better [and] more efficient,” Ronaldo told France Football. “At Real, I felt more his presence than Manchester [United], so a little more pressure. From a certain point of view, it was a healthy rivalry.”

It is further evidence of the mutual respect that has built up between the two players. They were seated next to each at the 2019 FIFA Best Football Awards ceremony in September and were seen deep in amicable conversation at various points of the evening.

“We share the stage for 15 years, me and him,” Ronaldo said during a short interview that night.

Lionel Messi

“I don’t know if that’s ever happened in football; the same two guys on the same stage all the time. It’s not easy, as you know. And, of course, we have a good relationship. We’ve not had a dinner together yet, but I hope in the future [we will].”

Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of the hardest workers to ever play the game, and it is seen as what still makes him one of the best in the world today at the advanced age of 34.

“Without [talent], you cannot do much,” he added. “After, talent without work is useless. Nothing falls from the sky. I would never have gotten where I am without my work force.

Cristiano Ronaldo

“My goal is to stay young as I get older – so, competitive. Give me a player who performs as much as I do at the same age, in a team like Juventus.”

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