I can’t think of any question I have been asked more often than “Ronaldo or Messi, who is the greatest of all time?”
As the two star players of their generation prepare to face each other for the first time since May 2018, the answer is as simple as it is impossible; they both are the best.
Messi the best player ever and Ronaldo the best striker ever. That is what I think anyway.
In the process of trying to come one way or another to an irrelevant and fundamentally flawed conclusion, everyone seems to make the same basic error. People seek to compare two geniuses who changed the way football is appreciated around the world by highlighting their differences.
The superficial vision of them ignores the reality that they have as much in common as separates them. So, as their clubs Barcelona and Juventus meet in the Champions League on Tuesday, let’s explore what unites these two footballing greats.
…come from similar backgrounds
Ronaldo and Messi come from humble origins. Cristiano is the youngest of four children raised in Madeira by the cash-strapped Jose Dinis Aveiro – a gardener by trade – and his wife Maria Dolores, a cook.
Leo is the third of four children born to Jorge Messi, a steel factory manager, and his wife Celia Cuccittini, who worked in a magnet manufacturing workshop.
Messi left his home country of Argentina to move to Spain when he was 12
From the moment both youngsters could walk, they were obsessed with playing football. Both would risk everything in their quest to become great footballers, not because they were particularly brave or foolhardy – or both – but simply because neither had a “Plan B”. In their minds, there was no other choice. And no doubts either. Doubts kill dreams.
Ronaldo’s journey into the unknown began when, as a 12-year-old, he left Madeira for the first time, cardboard name tag around his neck, en route to Lisbon where he would play for Sporting and endure months of loneliness as team-mates made fun of his “hicktown” Madeiran accent.
The 12-year-old Messi wept as the plane flew out of his beloved Argentina for Spain. Unlike Ronaldo he was accompanied by his family – at least for the time being. In the end his overwhelming, uncompromising desire and unfaltering ambition would end up tearing his family apart.