Nigeria legend Jay Jay Okocha has praised the domination that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have had on world football in the last decade, ahead of this year's 'The Best Awards' in London on 23rd October.
Okocha is arguably one of the most talented players to come out of Africa, recognised for his superb footwork and ability to dribble, winning the 1996 Olympics as well as being capped 75 times by his times and featuring in three consecutive World Cups for the Super Eagles.
Speaking to FIFA.com the former Bolton man was asked who his favourites for the award were and alluded to the glittering careers of Ronaldo and Messi, when asked one of the most common questions in football about who he favours, with the 43-year-old responded saying:
"I have to be diplomatic here, especially as I’ve a lot of Portuguese friends, but I tend to lean towards Messi. He’s a more natural talent.
"Ronaldo is a fantastic player, one of the best I’ve ever seen, but he’s been a bit unfortunate to be of the same generation as Messi. Consequently, they have to share the limelight."
Looking back on his player career the skilful midfielder sees a comparison in his abilities to those of new world record signing Neymar, who has joined Okocha's old club PSG.
"I'd say the player whose style most resembles mine would be Neymar. That’s because I played with a sense of joy and you can see that he feels the same and really enjoys his own play. He doesn’t play for himself or just to entertain the fans – he plays for his team. He uses his quality and skill for the good of the team."
The Nigerian believes that the legacy of Ronaldo and Messi will eventually be passed onto the Brazilian when they retire and his move to Paris will give him more attention as the star man of Ligue 1. When asked if Neymar will be the successor, he said:
"Yes, I think he will be the one to do it. Messi and Ronaldo have dominated world football for a decade and, given the nature of football, at a certain point the baton will have to pass to someone else."
The shortlist for the award is chosen by 23 legends of the game, including the likes of Okocha, Carles Puyol and Cafu.
Ronaldo won the award last year and after a extremely successful year is surely the favourite to retain the title, but the rivalry of Messi who was perhaps better collectively for his team could see the Argentinian pip him to the crown.