SI Staff
Wednesday May 18th, 2016

Sir Alex Ferguson has weighed in on the Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi debate, and the iconic former Manchester United manager sides with his former player. 

Ferguson says Ronaldo could thrive anywhere, while Messi "is a Barcelona player," adding that the Portugal international works as hard as anyone at perfecting his craft. Ronaldo played under Ferguson at Old Trafford from 2003-2009, winning three Premier League titles, a Champions League title and a Ballon d'Or.

“It’s interesting to me that we hear so much about two players these days: Ronaldo and Messi,” Ferguson said while appearing with Rory McIlroy at the Irish Open. “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.”

Ronaldo's Real Madrid will be playing for another Champions League title on May 28 against Atletico Madrid, while Messi's Barcelona just won its sixth La Liga title in eight seasons and won last season's Champions League trophy. 

The two stars will be on display this summer, with Ronaldo leading Portugal at Euro 2016 and Messi guiding Argentina at Copa America Centenario. Both are searching for their first major trophies on the international level.

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