Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have spent most of their careers competing with each other.
Aside from Luka Modric in 2018, the Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain stars have won every single Ballon d'Or trophy since they played second fiddle to Kaka almost 14 years ago.
It's remarkable to think that two of the greatest footballers of all time are sharing the same era and there's no denying that they've pushed each other to the limits with their friendly competition.
Ronaldo vs Messi debate
The extent to which they care about that is ultimately impossible to gauge, but if you had to wager which of the icons would be invested in the debate the most, then it would have to be Ronaldo.
That's not a criticism, by the way, but merely a product of Ronaldo's more overt and unabashed brand of elite mentality where he openly declares his desire to be the greatest footballer in history.
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Ronaldo's chat with Piers Morgan in 2019
Some call that arrogant; we just call it determination and it's not as though Ronaldo doesn't have respect for Messi because the 36-year-old is never afraid to compliment his eternal rival.
And perhaps no Ronaldo interview has illustrated this cocktail of striving to be the best, while still respecting your competition, better than his sit-down chat with Piers Morgan back in 2019.
In fact, Ronaldo's comments on his battle with Messi are still so pertinent to this day that clips of the conversation have once again reemerged on social media ahead of the 2021 Ballon d'Or ceremony.
Ronaldo's beautiful answer about Messi
And while some of those might be poking fun at Ronaldo declaring his desire to overtake Messi in the Ballon d'Or when he could fall further behind, we see the comments in a more positive light.
Particularly when you seek out the extended footage of the conversation, you can see just how much reverence Ronaldo has for Messi when Morgan asks if he ever texts the Argentine icon.
The answer, by the way, was 'no', but Ronaldo was keen to elaborate on how Messi is the greatest player that he's ever faced and helped him to become a better player. Check out the footage below:
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why the Ronaldo vs Messi debate will never be matched.
An unbeatable rivalry
Not only would it be one-in-a-billion for two more world-beaters to share a future era, but the attitude of Ronaldo and Messi to use each other as motivation to keep improving is what makes them great.
While Ronaldo and Messi would have undoubtedly become icons in any era of the game's history, it's doubtful that they would have become quite as superhuman as they have without each other.
Sadly for Ronaldo, though, it doesn't look like that will be enough to draw level on Ballon d'Or titles with Messi amongst the favourites to win alongside Jorginho and Robert Lewandowski.
But regardless of what the final Ballon d'Or scores turn out to be in the coming years, it couldn't possibly do the greatest rivalry in football history any sort of justice at all. Enjoy them while we can.News Now - Sport News