Lionel Messi admits he was 'hurt' by being level on Ballons d'Or with Cristiano Ronaldo

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The cover of SPORT could not have had a more apt headline on Tuesday morning. 

"There is only one God of football," it read.

It's long been wondered whether there was a way to settle the Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate. 

On Monday night, the Barcelona forward had the final say as he picked up his sixth Ballon d'Or. 

While the awards are ever unpredictable, on the current evidence it's hard to envisage the Portuguese overhauling him again. 

Ronaldo has had a phenomenal career with Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus. He has scored over 700 career goals, won six league titles and five Champions League titles.

That does not make him the 'Greatest of All Time', a name which only belongs to Messi. 

Perhaps the rivalry between the two has been played up over the years. When interviewed, the pair have typically displayed an enormous amount of respect for each other. 

However, the fact that they were level on Ballons d'Or was clearly playing on Messi's mind, a burden he could finally put to bed by earning his sixth title. 

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Speaking to France Football after that feat, he admitted his true feelings back in 2017 when Ronaldo pegged him back. GetFrenchFootballNews and the Mirror have provided a translation. 

“On the one hand, I appreciated having five and being the only one to do so," Messi said.

"When Cristiano levelled me, I have to admit that it hurt me a bit.

"I was no longer alone at the summit. But it was logical, even if it is nice when you are alone on five.”

He does make a valid point about Ronaldo, though. It was indeed logical that the Juventus star won five Ballon d'Or titles as for a long time, there wasn't an awful lot between them. 

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That has changed in 2019. 

The fact that it was Virgil van Dijk who proved the greatest rival speaks for itself. 

Ronaldo did win the UEFA Nations League with Portugal and Serie A with the Old Lady. 

But if Van Dijk is to be overlooked despite Liverpool's European success, it's clear that individual talent, not team awards, was the deciding factor. 

Messi no longer has to worry about being the standout player of his era.

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