Two time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has claimed that he had a more difficult time in earning recognition as the best in the world than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, because of the quality of the competition the Brazilian faced.
Between them, Messi and Cristiano have won every Ballon d'Or since 2008, and Ronaldo believes that such dominance could never have happened during his playing days.
AS report the former striker as telling Sport Bild: "In my generation, the competition was much greater than it is now.
"Without wanting to belittle Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the least, they will fight for the title of the best player in the world in the coming years, but in my time we were Zidane, Rivaldo, Figo, me, and then Ronaldinho, that was a generation in which being the best was much more difficult."
While Messi and Ronaldo have won all of the last 10 Ballons d'Or between them, the previous 10 had been won by 10 different players, with Michael Owen (2001), Pavel Nedved (2003), Andriy Shevchenko (2004), Fabio Cannavaro (2006) and Kaka (2007) joining the quintet referenced by Ronaldo in winning football's most prestigious individual prize during the period.
In total, Ronaldo scored 414 goals in 616 appearances for club and country during his 18 year career that saw him lift the Ballon d'Or in 1997 and 2002, the latter being a year in which he also won the Golden Boot as Brazil lifted the FIFA World Cup, a tournament Ronaldo also helped his country win as an 18-year-old in 1994.