Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are bitter foes on the pitch for bitter rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Off it, it seems like there’s mutual respect even if their characters are polar opposites.
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Ronaldo, 31, has revealed his feelings about Messi, 29, retiring from international soccer following Argentina’s heartbreaking loss to Chile on penalty kicks in the Copa America Centenario final on Jun. 26.
Speaking to Mundo Deportivo, the Portuguese captain has issued the following message to Messi.
“Messi has taken a tough decision and people should understand,” Ronaldo said. “He is not accustomed to defeats and disappointments, not even finishing second. Missing a penalty does not make you a bad player. It hurts to see Messi in tears and I hope he returns to his country, because he needs it.”
Messi’s international future remains unclear but the fact that he has now lost in all four major finals he has played in for Argentina (plus, he missed a penalty kick in this particular final) seems to be weighing heavy on him.
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He is a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and alongside Ronaldo they’ve gone on an epic duel in Spain over the past seven years, setting record after record with goals, assists and constant magic.
However, you get the sense that with Ronaldo battling away in the semifinals of EURO 2016 with Portugal in quest of the first international title of his career, he understands Messi’s situation better than most.
Both the main men for their respective nations, it hasn’t been easy for Ronaldo and Messi to replicate their club success on the international stage throughout their careers.
Purists out there will say that both Diego Maradona and Pele will always be ahead of Ronaldo and Messi due to their success with national teams at World Cups.
It seems like Ronaldo wants Messi to come back and give it one last crack with Argentina at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
There’s huge respect between these two superstars.