Messi rivalry made me a better player
The Portuguese star believes being in constant competition with the Argentine star has helped make him the player he is today
Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo believes his “healthy rivalry” with Barcelona counterpart Lionel Messi during his time in La Liga made him a better player.
Both players have won the coveted Ballon d’Or five times and are considered to be two of the greatest players of all time.
Ronaldo spent nine years with Real Madrid prior to joining Juventus in 2018 and Messi recently acknowledged the pair spurred each other on in their quest for individual honours.
The former Manchester United star has echoed those views, telling France Football: “A lot of people said that we fed each other, that being together in Spain made us better.
“That’s certainly true. I felt his presence more in Madrid than in Manchester. It was a healthy rivalry. We were the symbols of our clubs.
“It’s always nice to be spoken of in a flattering way. It’s nice if they say I’ve been the best, a fantastic player.
“Today, I hear what they say about me, but when it’s all over, at the end of my career, I won’t mind because I’ll disconnect from everything.”
Ronaldo is well known for his dedication to training and insists hard work off the field has helped him to become one of the all-time greats.
“First of all, you need talent, otherwise you won’t amount to much,” he said. “However, talent is useless without hard work.
“I would never have got to where I am today without the culture
of hard work.”
Ronaldo netted the 700th goal of his career in Portugal’s 2-1 defeat to Ukraine, 450 of those being scored during his illustrious spell at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Asked to pick his favourite ever goal, the 34-year-old went with his overhead kick in Madrid’s Champions League quarter-final win against current employers Juventus in 2017-18.
“Reaching 700 goals make me proud – it’s an impressive total that few players have reached,” he said.
“If I had to choose a favourite, I would say the one against Juventus because it was a goal I’d been trying to score for years.”