Discussing the longstanding and impossible-to-decide debate, former Manchester United manager and overall soccer legend Sir Alex Ferguson weighed in on who he prefers: Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
Ferguson, who stepped down from his Old Trafford perch in 2013 after claiming 13 English Premier League titles and two Champions League crowns over 27 years, spoke at an event in Dublin and proclaimed Ronaldo to be the better of the two talisman.
"It's interesting to me that we hear so much about two players these days: Ronaldo and Messi,” Ferguson said while he discussed topics like “work ethic and concentration,” according to Daily Mail.
"Now don't get me wrong, Messi is a fantastic player, it's like he's wearing slippers when he controls the ball, but here, for me, is the difference: Messi is a Barcelona player but Ronaldo could play for Stockport County and score a hat trick.
"He has everything. He can shoot with both feet, head the ball, he's as brave as a lion, and here's something else people overlook. During my time at Manchester United I was lucky enough to have a lot of people who put in countless extra hours to get better.
"Gary Neville turned himself from an average footballer into a wonderful one because of his work ethic, as did David Beckham. But Ronaldo used to completely exhaust himself, and still does. He just wanted to be the best in the world."
Ferguson, 74, might find it difficult to be objective in the ongoing debate. He plucked the then-budding Portuguese star Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon in 2003 and helped Ronaldo develop his game and become one of the most sport’s most feared and prolific scorers of all-time before he moved on to Madrid for a stunning world-record £80 million.
There’s no questioning Ronaldo’s work has paid off over the last decade. This season alone the 29-year-old’s netted 52 goals and 15 assists across all competitions with Real Madrid and Portugal, and at the start of the most recent La Liga campaign he surpassed Raul for the club’s all-time career scoring record.
Ronaldo’s racked up team achievements, as well. He was part of one of United’s Champions League runs under Ferguson and picked up another with Real Madrid in 2014. Ronaldo will compete in the upcoming Champions League final against Real Madrid's local rival, Atletico.
However, Messi has better correlated his development and individual success with that of the Catalans. Barcelona just held off Madrid yet again for La Liga this year, their third title in the last four years, to say nothing of the Camp Nou side’s treble a year ago. With Messi totaling 58 goals in 57 total matches, Barcelona swept La Liga, Spain’s Copa del Rey, and Champions League.
And on the international stage, Messi has the advantage over Ronaldo. At the most recent FIFA World Cup two years ago Messi powered Argentina all the way to the final match, and despite the narrow 1-0 loss to Germany he still picked up Golden Ball honors.