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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain Lionel Messi's pat for 'rival' Cristiano Ronaldo

While Messi is enthralling the US crowd wearing the Inter Miami shirt, Ronaldo is with Saudi Arabia club Al Nassr

Our Bureau, AP/PTI Calcutta, Miami Published 02.11.23, 09:41 AM
Lionel Messi gets a rousing welcome from teammates before a training session on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi gets a rousing welcome from teammates before a training session on Tuesday. Twitter

Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain Lionel Messi, who bagged a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or for the best player in the world on Monday, opened up on his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo during their La Liga days and said that it was one of the most memorable times of his career.

Both have left Europe. While Messi is enthralling the US crowd wearing the Inter Miami shirt, Ronaldo is with Saudi Arabia club Al Nassr.

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“It was only a so-called battle. In a sporting sense, it was really good, we fed off each other because we are very competitive. He always wanted to beat everyone and win everything. It was a very nice period for us and for people who like football in general. I think what we did for so long was very admirable,” Messi told Madrid-based sports newspaper AS in an interview hours after winning the Ballon d’Or.

The Inter Miami captain added that it is much easier to reach the top than to maintain that position. “The easy thing is to get there, but the difficult thing is to stay. We (Ronaldo and himself) stayed at the top for practically 10-15 years. That was very difficult to sustain. It was incredible and I have fond memories, also for everyone who enjoys football.”

Messi, however, won’t be playing in China this month. Inter Miami announced on Wednesday that their planned trip to China for a pair of exhibition matches has been called off. The team announced the trip last month, with a pair of games originally scheduled for November 5 and November 8.

It would have been at least the eighth time that Messi played in China.

Inter Miami said the reason was “unforeseen circumstances.” The tour promoter, NSN, said the decision to cancel was out of respect to Chinese officials following the death last week of the country’s former second-ranking leader, Li Keqiang.

“The tour promoter, NSN, has informed Inter Miami CF of the cancellation of its China Tour due to unforeseen circumstances in China,” read Inter Miami’s statement.

There were clear logistical challenges with the trip, including a botched ticket launch in China and reports that one of the matches would be cancelled. Messi is expected to play in two World Cup qualifying matches for Argentina later this month.

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