Al-Nassr star Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed that his rivalry with Lionel Messi is now over, and has added that his fans do not have to hate the Argentine just because they support him.
The two players have led World Football for much of the last two decades, scooping up 14 Ballon D’ors between them in that time and amassing over 1500 goals.
There has always been a perceived rivalry between the pair though, fostered by the time each spent either side of the Clasico divide (Messi with Barcelona and Ronaldo with Real Madrid), which pitted them against each other several times a season.
Now however, Ronaldo views their rivalry as dead, and has added that the two colleagues ‘respect each other’ after moving outside of Europe’s top five leagues.
The Portuguese striker now plies his trade for Saudi side Al-Nassr, while Messi completed a shock move to Inter Miami over the summer, and Ronaldo endorsed the switch.
“He is making his way, as I am making mine. Regardless if we play outside Europe, he is doing things right, from what I have seen, and I am also doing things right. And the legacy continues. We shared the stage for 15 years. I’m not saying we are friends, but we are colleagues in the profession and we respect each other,” Ronaldo said.
“Whoever likes Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t have to hate Messi. They are both very good, they have changed the history of soccer. The rivalry is over. We are respected all over the world, that’s the most important thing,”
The Portuguese veteran, who is set to feature in the upcoming international break in a bid to extend his record as the men’s all-time international goalscorers, also revealed the pride he feels at the progress made by Saudi Arabia since his arrival.
They have enjoyed an unprecedented summer, attracting some of football’s best talent to the middle east including N’Golo Kante, Karim Benzema, Neymar and Riyad Mahrez, and Ronaldo himself feels responsible.
“It’s a privilege to change a country’s culture and football, to have great stars, it makes me proud. I was the pioneer and I feel proud of it. What I want most is to continue to evolve always, so that I can be at the top”, he explained.