Search icon


01st Jul 2018

Rio Ferdinand drops truth bomb about Ronaldo and Messi after their World Cup exits

He hits the nail on the head

Reuben Pinder

Hard to disagree

Football tournaments always have prominent narratives, it’s why we love the sport. What happens on the pitch in those 90 minutes is only a small part of a larger story being told.

This summer, that story centred around the debate of which player was truly the greatest: Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. Everyone has a preference, they’re very different players with almost identical numbers, but it’s an age old debate that will never end. In 30 years’ time, we will still be having the debate.

Although, as Rio Ferdinand pointed out to us yesterday, the debate is almost futile. The former England captain tweeted: ‘The 2 Greats have departed the  at the same stage on the same day… Ronaldo will be remembered at this World Cup for his hattrick against one of the favourites Spain.. Messi for his one moment of brilliance against Nigeria! Just proves football is a TEAM game!’

Ferdinand, who has developed into one of the most insightful pundits around, makes a key point when he says football is a team game. It’s obvious but taps into why the debate is almost futile – context is important.

There is no doubt that the Portugal team this summer had a more functional set-up than Argentina. Jorge Sampaoli changed his starting line up and system for every game in this World Cup, which was indicative of the chaos within the Argentina camp.

Yet both Messi and Ronaldo had their moments, though neither of them played as they have done for their clubs. The collective must function for the individual to shine.