Who do you prefer, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?
Fate wasn’t so kind to the two of the most talented and exciting footballers in history when it decided to send them together to set the world of football on fire. I can foresee regular space for them in the leading newspapers around the world for decades to come.
Comparisons have been drawn between the two of them ever since they started playing and will continue to be drawn long after they hang up their boots. I am sure we all know who I am talking about, its Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Their names are synonymous with their clubs where they play. Their name on the team sheet guarantees packed stadiums week in, week out. Their marketing teams love them because of the revenues their names generate just by selling the merchandise with their name on it. It has always been said that the name on the front of the shirt is more important compared to the name on the back but this is not the case when it comes to these two gentlemen.
Their respective teams benefit from them every week because of the attention their names get in the opponent’s team strategy meetings, allowing other team mates to go a little unnoticed and unmarked.
Although Lionel Messi has been a phenomenal player for the Catalans ever since he made his debut for Barcelona, there is still a lot to be proven by him. Many may not agree but at this point in time it is almost criminal to say that Messi is on the same level as Ronaldo, let alone being better than him.
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, a boy from a small Island of Madeira, started his club career at the age of eight. The Sporting Club of Portugal was soon alerted by the boy’s talent and they quickly signed him up against their policy. However, his destiny had something more special in store for him.
Manchester United players after a match with Sporting Club of Portugal were so awe struck with his sheer brilliance and ability that they requested Sir Alex Ferguson to sign him up. Ferguson also knew the potential of this young boy and signed him in the year 2003. He quickly adapted to life in England and rose to fame for footballing reasons. Soon, the awards like ‘player of the month’ and year became a regular feature.
The boy from Madeira had become the league’s favourite player in a country where the world’s best footballers plied their trade. He won every trophy that was there to be won including the champion’s league and premier league. His individual brilliance was awarded when he won the Ballon d’Or in the year 2008.
A crowd which used to sing for Best, Cantonna, Van Nistelroy and Beckham had a new favourite now. The Old Trafford faithful still sing his name four years after he joined Real Madrid.
While jaws dropped every time Ronaldo kicked the ball in England, a young boy named Lionel Messi was being dubbed ‘the best ever’ by journalists and pundits all around the world.
Fast forward to 2013 and this little Argentinian has already won four Ballon d’Or awards; an achievement which may never be met by Cristiano Ronaldo because of his age. The Messi camp will forever bring this matter up whenever the “Is Messi better than Ronaldo?” debate is brought up anywhere in the world. But this is not the case.
For a person with a more rational brain, Messi will always be remembered as a player who did not test himself enough to be considered as the world’s greatest. He plays every week in the same team, league and with probably the best midfielders of this generation. His effectiveness is highly criticised when he plays for Argentina, simply because he just cannot replicate his brilliance in national colours. This gives way to the belief that he might find it extremely difficult to hold on to the tag of best footballer if he ever decides to leave Barcelona.
Ronaldo on the other hand, since his move to Real Madrid, has only improved.
He started playing in a new team, in a different league and with different players. He broke the club record when he scored in his first four La Liga appearances. He along with Gonzalo Higuain became the club’s highest scoring duo in his debut year.
There has been no looking back ever since. He has broken goal scoring records, club records and league records left right and centre. He kept performing at the same level for his country too, through the world cup and the euros. He, narrowly and controversially, missed out on Ballon d’Or three times but that does not bring his level down. He is a warrior and controversies kick him on.
He will always be remembered as a person who was the fastest, who could dribble past any defence, who could score with his left and right foot alike and his head at will.
Follow him on Twitter @NavidMushtaq
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.