Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have brought so much joy to our television screens for the majority of their careers and for the best part of 15 years, at least, and their media and fan-fuelled rivalry has been a fascinating one to watch.
Both born with natural talent and a never say die attitude, Messi and Ronaldo have plundered ridiculous numbers throughout their careers and have smashed every record they have come face-to-face with.
Countless trophies have also been one and they have played at the highest level for quite some time now, and even as they get older, they still dominate world football.
Manchester United ‘s Ronaldo has proven himself in three different leagues in three different countries, while Messi was a constant mainstay at Barcelona before his summer move to PSG, yet no matter where they’ve been, they’ve never let anyone down.
Here is all you need to know about their incredible careers and the success they’ve had.
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Messi has always bled the colours of Barcelona and after coming through the academy ranks, he went on to spend the first 17 years of his career at the Catalan club, going on to make a total of 778 appearances across all competitions that began with his debut in 2003-04 and ended with his final game in 2020-21.
He made the most appearances during the 2011-12 season, playing in a toal of 60 games in all competitions.
Since his ground-breaking transfer to PSG during the summer, it took a little while for Messi to come into the fold but he has since made eight appearances for the French club – five in Ligue 1 and three in the Champions League.
Ronaldo has been around for slightly longer than Messi has, what with being two-years older than his rival, and has therefore played more games since making his debut in 2002-03 for Sporting Lisbon, and has since totalled 905 appearances in all competitions over 21 seasons for four different clubs – including two spells at Man United.
CR7 made 31 appearances for Sporting Lisbon in the 2002-03 season, 292 from 2003-2009 for Man United, 438 for Real Madrid between 2009-2018, 134 for Juventus from 2018-20 and since his return to Man United, a further 10 during the 2021-22 season so far.
His most appearances in a single season came in both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons for Real Madrid, appearing 55 times in both campaigns.
Messi made his international debut for Argentina in 2005 and has represented his nation in every year since, despite initially retiring after their Copa America 2016 Final defeat.
Nonetheless, he has made 156 appearances for his country and in that time, has played at four World Cups and six Copa America’s – winning just one Copa America in that time (2021).
Ronaldo made his Portugal debut in a 2003 friendly and has since gone on to make a total of 182 appearances for his country.
The Portuguese captain is the record appearance holder for his country and has also appeared at four World Cups, along with five European Championships, one Nations League Finals and one Confederations Cup. Of these appearances, he won the Euro’s in 2016 and the Nations League in 2019.
Messi has produced outrageous scoring chart numbers throughout his career and has continued to make the impossible possible with his incredible dribbling and expert finishing skills.
In total, Messi has scored 675 goals in 786 competitive games across all competitions for two clubs and scored more than 30 goals a season for 13 consecutive seasons for Barcelona between 2008-09 and 2020-21 – with a record 73 goals in 60 games coming in 2011-12.
For Argentina, he has notched 80 international goals in 156 games, taking his career total for club and country up to 755 goals in 942 games.
CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images)
Ronaldo has also smashed plenty of goal scoring records and has become one of the best finishers in the world, with the ability to score with any part of his body.
683 goals in 905 games for four different clubs speaks volumes for itself, including 42 in 49 games for Man United in 2007-08, but he then scored more than 50 goals a season for six consecutive seasons for Real Madrid between 2010-11 and 2015-16.
For Portugal, he is now the all-time leading scorer for his nation as wll as in international football in general, bagging 115 goals in 182 appearances, bringing his total tally for club and country up to 798 goals in 1,087 games.
Together, the pair have won a combined total of 67 trophies throughout theri careers, with Messi lifting 35 and Ronaldo lifting 32.
Messi has a Spanish football-dominated trophy cabinet after 17 years at Barcelona, and won a club-record 34 major trophies with Barcelona, including 10 La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, seven Copa del Rey titles, seven Spanish Super Cups, three UEFA Super Cups and three FIFA Club World Cups. Three Copa America runner-up medals eventually bought Messi his only major international trophy in 2021, while he also has a 2014 World Cup runner-up medal too.
Ronaldo has won trophies in three different leagues with three different clubs, meaning he has quite a varied trophy cabinet, including seven league titles, five Champions Leagues and four FIFA Club World Cups.
With Man United, CR7 also won an FA Cup, two League Cups and one Community Shield, at Real Madrid there were also two Copa del Rey’s, two Spanish Super Cups and two UEFA Super Cups, while at Juventus there came one Coppa Italia and two Italian Super Cups.
The Euro 2016 title and the 2019 Nations League crown were also achieved by Ronaldo.
Messi is the all-time leading goalscorer in La Liga and also has the record for the most assists but Ronaldo is the all-time top goalscorer and assist provider in the Champions League, yet the pair of them are the first two players to score 100 goals in Champions League history.
The pair have also dominated the Ballon d’Or awards for more than a decade, with Messi winning six of them and Ronaldo claiming five.
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Individually, Messi has one FIFA World Player of the Year award, one The Best Fifa Men’s Player award, one FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, one Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award and one Ballon d’Or dream team award, along with six European Golden Shoe’s, six La Liga Best Player awards and 12 Argentine Footballer of the Year awards.
As for Ronaldo, he has one FIFA World Player of the Year award, one Premier League Golden Boot, one La Liga Best Player award and one Capocannoniere, along with two The Best FIFA Men’s Player award, two PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards, two Premier League Player of the Season’s, two Serie A Footballer of the Year awards, three Pichichi Trophies, four FPF Portuguese Player of the Year awards and four European Golden Shoes.