Ronaldo won numerous individual and team accolades during his playing career, lifting two World Cups as well as claiming the Ballon d’Or in 1997 and 2002.
The former Barcelona, Inter and Real Madrid striker scored 62 goals in 98 games for Brazil, and his blistering pace and quality in front of goal earned him a fan in the form of Messi.
Ronaldo - Brazil vs Turkey / World Cup 2002
Image credit: Eurosport
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"Ronaldo [Nazario] was a phenomenon, of all the strikers I ever saw, he was the best. He was unbelievable,” Messi told TyC Sports.
Messi also reserved praise for Ronaldinho and the Brazilian’s role as mentor during his early days with Barcelona’s senior team.
Ronaldinho was the star attraction at Barcelona when Messi was blooded into the team, and even set him up for his first club goal.
"The ball didn't settle, it bounced off a defender, then I touched it back to Ronaldinho and I waited,” Messi said.
"He lifted it over to me, and I lobbed the goalkeeper. I liked the similar one that was ruled out earlier [for offside]. That annoyed me into action."
A young Messi with Ronaldinho and Deco
Image credit: Reuters
Messi added: "Ronaldinho helped me a lot. I came into the dressing room at 16-17 years of age, seeing all those footballing giants made it tough.
But he mentored me and made me feel comfortable, and I loosened up. Afterwards on the pitch, I always looked for him but we didn't have many years to enjoy together. Besides, we didn't play as much at that time. I would have liked to play more with Ronaldinho.
"I have played five years with Luis Suárez. Playing every three days, you get used to each other and play by heart. We have children of the same age, spend our lives together every day, and the relationship is growing ever stronger."
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