LONDON: Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, widely considered the best player in the world, has revealed that Ronaldo was one of his heroes -- but not his Portuguese rival.
“Ronaldo was my hero,” Messi was quoted as saying in the latest edition of British football magazine FourFourTwo, referring to the Brazilian Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, not Real Madrid’s Cristiano, with whom he is vying for the Ballon d’Or.
“I loved watching players like (Zinedine) Zidane, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo but Ronaldo was the best striker I’ve ever seen,” he added.
“He was so fast he could score from nothing, and could shoot the ball better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Messi, 25, is tipped to pick up the Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best footballer. Like Ronaldo, who also played at Barcelona, and France legend Zidane he has won the prestigious accolade three times. Meanwhile, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said yesterday he would vote if he could for national captain Iker Casillas to win this year’s award for the world’s best player.
“I would give it to Casillas,” Rajoy said when asked who he would support if he could vote for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or.
The prime minister recalled Casillas’s role in Spain’s World Cup victory and consecutive Euro wins, and his role in Real Madrid’s past Champions League success.
“Being a goalkeeper is very difficult,” Rajoy told Cope radio.
The Spanish leader praised other contenders this year such as the favourite Messi and Ronaldo and its central defender Sergio Ramos.