Al Nassr forward Cristiano Ronaldo said that it is not a pre-requisite to hate Lionel Messi to be a fan of his. Ronaldo mentioned that he is not friends with the World Cup-winning forward, but they share mutual respect.
The Portuguese star talked about his relationship with long-time rival Messi, with whom he shared a highly competitive individual rivalry in the last decade which has become a massive chapter of European football history.
The rivalry ended with Cristiano Ronaldo leaving for a fresh start at Al Nassr and Lionel Messi ending up at Inter Miami in the United States.
Cristiano Ronaldo admitted that both of them played a huge part in scripting the history of football while urging his fans to not hate on Messi.
He was quoted by Goal.com said, "If you like Cristiano, you don't have to hate Messi. The two changed the history of football and are respected. Rivalry? I do not see those things like that, we shared the stage for 15 years. I am not saying we are friends but we respect each other."
The duo spent over a decade in Spain as Ronaldo wore the white of Real Madrid and Messi donned the iconic blue and garnet colours of FC Barcelona. They faced each other in the league and continental competitions several times with each trying to better the other's performances and records.
Both of them have won numerous titles for their teams single-handedly with their goal-scoring prowess including La Liga titles, UEFA Champions League, Copa Del Rey, and FIFA Club World Cup.
However, Lionel Messi went ahead in the race last year after finally winning the elusive FIFA World Cup trophy with Argentina, which still remains a dream of Ronaldo.
The duo has already started winning trophies with Ronaldo lifting the Arab Club Champions Cup this year and Messi leading his side to their first-ever title, the Leagues Cup 2023.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be seen in action during the Euro 2024 Qualifiers on Friday against Slovakia while Messi will lead Argentina against Ecuador in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Buenos Aires on Thursday.