Twitter has sparked the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi debate again on who is the real G.O.A.T. Perhaps the greatest debate in the history of football for the past 10 years right? Is it ever going to end?
Never have two players of that equal magnitude graced the football pitch in the same era. They are so contrasting in their style and panache but the result is always typically the same. Some say Messi was designed by an artist so slick, smooth and elegant – all so natural while Ronaldo was designed by an engineer, the self-trained, powerful, physical and a well-built phenomenon.
Some might say what about Pele and Maradona? Yes, the old school G.O.A.T.s. Like UK boxer Anthony Joshua said, “there is no school like the old school”. Pele and Maradona created such goodwill for football that transcended beyond their exploits on the pitch, and in the grand scheme of things have more eternal value than Ronaldo and Messi today because Ronaldo and Messi might not have played football at all if not for the legends before them.
Therefore they owe them a debt of gratitude, however, only time will tell what impact these two will make in the game 30 years from now.
Personally, I feel Ronaldo and Messi are far more achieved on the pitch than any player in modern football history. As polarising as that might be, the numbers don’t lie. The level these two have performed, the records they have broken, and their achievements are unprecedented. Cristiano Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or awards, the most for a European player, five league titles and five UEFA Champions League titles (the apex of club football) and a European Championship for Portugal. Ronaldo holds the record for most official goals in Europe’s top-five leagues (395) as well as 120 Champions League goals, the highest of all time. Ronaldo set the World Cup alight with a memorable hat-trick against Spain and recently broke Ferenc Puskás award for the highest European International goal scorer by scoring his 85th goal for Portugal against Morocco.
Messi is a prolific goal scorer and playmaker, he also has five Ballon d’Or awards, winning four consecutively. Nine league titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and six Copa del Rey titles – a total of a whopping 36 trophies as a player. He is the record La Liga goal scorer with (383), he has scored 91 goals in a calendar year, 71 goals in a season and 149 assists in La Liga – the record highest. It’s needless to say Messi is a genius – a gem we have not seen before. However, Messi has failed to perform in some critical times most especially for Argentina most recently his penalty miss against Iceland.
However, Ronaldo and Messi have very different perceptions; Messi is the most loved and adored – a media darling because he is perceived humble. While Ronaldo is narcissistic, egoistical and proud, so the media favours him less. I believe the media perception has not favoured Ronaldo in the G.O.A.T. conversation although, we cannot discredit Messi’s achievements – aside from his 2010 Ballon d’Or award over Wesley Sneijder (he was robbed).
How then do we settle who the G.O.A.T. is, wait ….. wow! I never explained what GOAT means – Greatest Of All Time. Honourable mention before I decide, my G.O.A.T. The late Johan Cryuff, he was a great player – great coach – great administrator and in my opinion the greatest football mind to ever be born. But back to the matter, being great is a culmination of a lot of things; adaptability, achievements, ability, etc. Lionel Messi is slightly more achieved than Ronaldo, but Ronaldo is more adaptable in my opinion – he has played for more than one institution and think of it as you may, it is a critical aspect that determines the success or failure of a player.
In terms of ability Messi is nothing short of genius, on his heyday, he will leave you awestruck and revelling in football ecstasy. However, Cristiano Ronaldo is still a better player in my opinion. He does not leave you with the same feeling Messi does but he has greater functionality. A player’s ability is based on a tripartite of Technical ability, Physical ability and Mental ability. Ronaldo is mentally and physically stronger than Messi. Technically, Messi edges it but Ronaldo isn’t too far behind.
Messi’s technical ability is definitely a gem and it appeals to human sentiments. It even reminds us of Diego Maradona (could it be because Messi reminds us of Maradona that we call him the G.O.A.T?) Cristiano Ronaldo has no real semblance to any great player before him and he is just a physical specimen – reminds me of Lebron James – we have not seen a similar face(s).
Lionel Messi is gifted from God, Cristiano Ronaldo worked extremely hard, invested in his body and career to get this far – it certainly looks like Ronaldo has an air of self-belief higher than Messi. The World Cup is the best stage to finally decide who the G.O.A.T. will be if anyone of them can lead its country to victory – Portugal or Argentina, I believe the case will be closed because it is most likely their last hurrah at the World Stage. Lionel Messi will look to step his performances up to ensure his legacy ahead of Ronaldo who has made his intentions very clear from the first game.
Therefore, who you decide to call your GOAT depends on personal preference; it could be the grace and style of Messi or the power and strength of Ronaldo which is more self-earned – that is why I lean towards Ronaldo.
Who is yours?