Cristiano Ronaldo insisted his rivalry with Lionel Messi is far from over after beating the Barcelona star to the 2017 Best FIFA Men’s Player award on Monday.
The pair have effectively been the only two players in the conversation for every major individual award since Kaka beat them to the Ballon d’Or back in 2007.
Despite them both now being in their 30s—Ronaldo is 32, Messi 30—the Real Madrid forward claimed after his triumph on Monday that his battle with Messi is not finished, per Goal’s Dom Farrell: “It didn’t finish yet…it is just starting.”
The Portugal international also claimed he doesn’t compete with Messi and mulled over what will happen in the future, per Farrell:
“I don’t compete with Leo. He is a player, who is in the same era. He won five times. I won five times too — individual awards for the best in the world. So things are as they are…I will see what’s going to happen tomorrow, but at the moment I have to enjoy this nice moment of my life because you never know what will happen next.”
Ronaldo received more than 43 percent of the overall votes for the FIFA award, more than Messi and third-placed Neymar combined:
#TheBest voting totals:
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 23, 2017
That is despite the Argentina international reaching 50 goals for the calendar year and starting the 2017-18 season in much better form than the former Manchester United man, per Squawka:
Most goals for club & country in 2017 by players in Europe's top 5 leagues:
?? Messi (50)
? Kane (45)
?? Lewandowski (45)
?? Cristiano(44) pic.twitter.com/0nGdsHjtlV
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 23, 2017
Ronaldo, though, played a crucial role in Real’s impressive UEFA Champions League and La Liga double in 2016-17, while Messi’s Barcelona won only the Copa del Rey.
The duo’s consistency has been staggering over the last decade, and it would not be a huge surprise were they competing again for the major individual awards next year.
Neymar is perhaps the biggest threat to the Ronaldo-Messi hegemony, and if he can lead Paris Saint-Germain to a Champions League win this season, he may be able to supplant them at the top of the podium.