Manchester United hero Rio Ferdinand has posted a new video on Instagram wishing Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi a happy 28th birthday and saluting the four-time Ballon d’Or winner for his remarkable achievements.
Ferdinand, who now works for BT Sport after hanging up his boots at the end of last season, was in disbelief that Messi - considered by some to be the greatest footballer of all time - has only just turned 28.
“Mr. Lionel Messi, 28 years old, happy birthday,” he said in his online video, which can be viewed by scrolling down this page. “Twenty-four trophies at Barça, including four Champions Leagues. Let me just read this: 482 games, 412 goals, 155 assists. Salute you, man.”
That Messi has achieved so much in the game and is still two years away from his 30th birthday appears to have caught some people, Ferdinand included, by surprise.
Fans and players alike have taken to social media to pay tribute to the Argentina international, who is currently in Chile attempting to win his first ever major title with his national team.
Messi set to win fifth Ballon d'Or
Messi admits that winning the Copa America would be a dream come true - and he will have the opportunity to send his side through to the semi-finals by defeating Colombia on Friday night.
If the left-footed maestro lifts the Copa America trophy in Santiago on July 4, Messi will be the overwhelming favourite to win the 2015 Ballon d’Or in January.
He finished his club campaign with Barcelona by winning all three major trophies - La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League - scoring 58 goals in 57 matches in the process.
Ronaldo will always be second best
Messi already holds the record for most number of Ballon d’Or awards won - his fourth came in 2013 - and extending his tally to five may put him permanently out of the reach of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 30-year-old goal machine secured his third Ballon d’Or award in January, but he has has failed to scale the same heights as Messi over the past six months.
The fact he is two-and-a-half years older than Messi means the Portugal captain is rapidly running out of time to add to his own Ballon d’Or collection.
This doesn’t particularly really matter, of course, except it does to Ronaldo, who has made no secret of the fact he wants to end his career as the greatest footballer of all time.
While there’s no doubt Ronaldo will finish his career as an all-time great, it’s hard to imagine he will be widely considered as a better player than the magnificent Messi, arguably the most naturally gifted footballer ever.
It’s a debate that will continue to rumble on - and, in all likelihood, will continue to do so after they both retire - but the sheer number of trophies Messi is winning speaks for itself.
Will Lionel Messi be remembered as a greater player than Cristiano Ronaldo? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!