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‘Those who like me, don’t have to hate him’ – Cristiano Ronaldo ends his historic rivalry with Lionel Messi

Image Source : GETTY Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo during the UCL match in December 2020

The legendary Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo finally decided to end his historic rivalry with Argentina captain Lionel Messi on Thursday. Ronaldo stated that the rivalry with Messi has gone and also told his fans to not hate the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner. Ronaldo’s comments came after he failed to make the Ballon d’Or 2023 nominees list for the first time in the last 20 years on Wednesday.

Both Messi and Ronaldo dominated the last two decades of world football and have already written their names in history books as one of the best forwards. Both have recorded over 800 goals in professional football and share major records. But both superstar are at the end of their playing career and are playing outside Europe for the very first time since their debuts.

Messi and Ronaldo’s rivalry started when the latter joined La Liga club Real Madrid for a world-record transfer fee in 2009. He and Messi at Barcelona developed an exciting rivalry by smashing record books in Spanish football which led fans to raise the question – who is the best among Messi and Ronaldo?

Ronaldo, playing at Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr, is in great form this season and scored a sensational hat-trick against Al Fateh last month. He also became the first-ever player to 850-goal landmark with his latest goal on September 2 and talked about his rivalry with Messi. He said that there is no rivalry between them anymore and asked fans to move on from the ‘who is best?’ debate.

“I don’t see things like that, the rivalry is gone,” Ronaldo was quoted saying by ESPN on Thursday. “It was good, spectators liked it. Those who like Cristiano Ronaldo don’t have to hate Messi and vice versa. We’ve done well, we have changed the history of football. We are respected all over the world, that’s the most important thing.

“He’s followed his path and I have followed mine, regardless of playing outside of Europe. From what I’ve seen, he’s been doing well and so have I. The legacy lives on, but I don’t see the rivalry like that. We shared the stage many times, it was 15 years. I’m not saying we’re friends, I’ve never had dinner with him, but we’re professional colleagues and we respect each other.”

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