Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed he would like to one day sit down and have dinner with great on-field rival Lionel Messi, with the pair appearing to be very friendly when seated next to each other for Thursday’s Champions League draw.
‘Ronaldo or Messi’ is the great modern football debate, and the two living legends have been billed as great foes over the years. But their relationship seems to be built on immense mutual respect and, possibly even friendship, rather than anything even close to hatred or animosity.
Both men, who have won 10 Ballon d’Or awards between them since 2008, were seen happily chatting at the event in the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, and Ronaldo alluded to the fact that each player has been crucial in pushing the other to truly astonishing levels.
“We share the stage for 15 years, me and him,” the Portuguese veteran said as he was interviewed during a short interlude in the draw process.
“I don’t know if that’s ever happened in football; the same two guys on the same stage all the time. It’s not easy, as you know. And, of course, we have a good relationship. We’ve not had a dinner together yet, but I hope in the future [we will].”
Ronaldo and Messi are no longer pitted against each in the same domestic league following the former’s €100m move to Serie A last summer, but they will continue to be important for each other’s career, especially when it comes to the Champions League.
“Of course, I miss playing in Spain,” Ronaldo commented. “We’ve had that battle for the last 15 years, which is good – he pushed me and I pushed him as well. So, it’s good to be part of the history of football. I’m there and, of course, he is there as well.”
Both players were nominated for UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, with the annual UEFA Awards ceremony combined with the Champions League draw.
Neither won the prestigious prize on this occasion, with Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk instead receiving the individual recognition his performances over the last 12 months deserved.
Messi did win one award, however, named 2018/19 Champions League Forward of the Season.