The year begins and the debate over Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have managed to stay relevant. In terms of personal preference, I’ve always considered Messi to be above Cristiano’s level. However, It wasn’t until the Balon D’ oR (GOLDEN BALL) award that I picked sides again. I had chosen to praise them both equally prior to it; two players that have dominated the sport for almost a decade with merits and humble backstories that helped them reach such undisputed level. Consistency and individual records finally led me to think that the debate should be over until Cristiano stated “ I don’t see anyone better than me. No player does things I can’t do myself, but I see things others can’t do. There’s no more complete player than me. I’m the best player in history — in the good and bad moments.” After winning his fifth golden ball the claim was and will always be out of place. It will probably be the reason why his legacy will only be remembered only at club level.
The complete disregard of past legends that have played the sport is the first reason why he lost credibility. As a young prospect, you have role models that inspire you to become the footballer you want to be. Whether is hairstyle, personality or playing style, there is always something that you either learn or improve from a player that came before you. Cristiano Ronaldo is no exception; Eusebio was the man that helped put Portuguese players on the map. He became known as the “European Pelè” due to his coincidence with “O reí”. Forging a legacy with Benfica, building an impressive record that made him a reference in the sport. Luis Figo was the next player that led a golden generation (including Cristiano) to be a competitive force in football. Figo is commonly remembered for his infamous transfer to Real Madrid in the early 2000’s, however, he managed to be part of the “Galacticos” era. The skill level and personality he displayed game after the game made him a key man. Without these two iconic figures for Portugal, there would’ve probably never been a chance for Cristiano to break through the scene. Pele and Maradona you ask? They were key figures as well; I guess Cristiano forgot that both won everything and not once claimed to be the greatest of all time. If anything, Maradona has claimed that he could have surpassed Pelè if it wasn’t for his addictions.
In terms of club level, his unawareness is also an issue. He has forgotten that he became what he is because of a certain club. His trademark and now the company was all thanks to a gamble by the Legendary Sir Alex Ferguson when he signed him for Manchester United. Cristiano was given the number 7 because Sir Alex saw his potential and thankfully it played off in the end. However, he learned his traits from legendary players as well. Giggs, Scholes, Neville, Tevez, Ferdinand, and Evra all made his playing style evolve and developed him to be a perfect fit for Real Madrid. In the personal aspect, Sir Alex managed to keep him focused and humble and in the end, helped him add more qualities to his playing style. Once he arrived in Madridcredibility.he forced the departure of club legend Raul. The move was obvious since Ronaldo was bought to be the next reference for the future, but regardless of having paid off the price tag he once again forgot why he has achieved so much. Yes, I do understand that the golden ball is an individual award but let’s not forget that soccer is a team sport. He has won 5 golden ball awards without adding the domestic league ones, regardless his teammates have contributed to each and every one of them. He barely acknowledges this, instead complains when he can’t score or rather go to goal himself instead of constructing a collective goal opportunity. Over his 7 years at the club, Ronaldo has benefited from the best passers in the modern days. Di Maria, Guti, Xabi Alonso, Kaka, Toni Cross and Luca Modric. It’s because of them and his teammates that he has broken goal records and achieved titles, but he rather considers himself the greatest of all time and gives himself all the credit. Can you imagine if Raul would’ve retired the 7 shirts when he left? Cristiano’s CR7 trademark wouldn’t have been as important especially because he would only have used it in the national team. However, the “what if” claim is invalid in the soccer world, but deserves to be considered once in a while.
In summary, I’ve pinpointed the aspects that make Cristiano unqualified to be considered “The best player in history”. However, Lionel Messi is probably his biggest rival in the race for that title. The player from Argentina has managed to amaze people around the world with magical displays week after week. He has sold out stadiums in the U.S. and other parts of the world; most of those times was only because people wanted to see him play. I’ve come across people that only know of Cristiano because of Messi, there were others that started following the sport after seeing him play. Whatever the case is Messi has been influential to tremendous extends. Coaches and Rival fans actually enjoy seeing him play, something that very few manage to do. He was also responsible for the resurgence of Barcelona as a club; only the likes of Maradona, Pelè or Cruyff have done it. I’m not saying that Cristiano hasn’t done the same for Real Madrid but in general the admiration he receives is in terms of playing style and physical attributes. Cristiano Ronaldo will be considered one of the greatest without a doubt but he will NEVER be the greatest of all time. Why do you ask? History and previous legends have done far more to discredit him; Lionel Messi is far closer to that achievement in my opinion. Don’t believe me? Its ok, time will eventually support my claim but until then just watch Messi outclass the world.