United icons Beckham, Rooney join Messi-Ronaldo debate

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David Beckham and Wayne Rooney are the latest big names to have given their opinion
David Beckham and Wayne Rooney are the latest big names to have given their opinion

Published: Sun 19 Apr 2020, 11:09 PM

Last updated: Mon 20 Apr 2020, 12:40 PM

David Beckham and Wayne Rooney are two of the biggest names that have played for Manchester United. While Beckham left the Red Devils a year before a rising star named Cristiano Ronaldo joined the Theatre of Dreams in 2004, Rooney went on to form a deadly partnership with the Portuguese winger.
A couple of weeks after Pele hailed Ronaldo as the greatest player in the world, Beckham and Rooney have leaned towards Ronaldo's greatest rival, Lionel Messi.
These two iconic United players agree that it's the Argentinian genius that has the slight edge over the unstoppable goal-machine that is Ronaldo.
Beckham never faced Ronaldo at the club level, but the former England midfielder who left United for Real Madrid in 2003 did come up against a 19-year-old Messi in the 2007 Clasico at the Camp Nou.
It was a six-goal thriller that announced Messi's arrival at the highest level as his brilliant hat trick earned the home team a point.
Six years later, Beckham, then at PSG, faced Messi again in a Champions League knock-out clash.
"He (Messi) is alone in his class as a player, it is impossible that there is another like him," Beckham told Telam. "He, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who is not at his level, are both above the rest."
Beckham then said he experienced Messi's ability to change the fortunes of a match during PSG's Champions League quarterfinal encounter against Barcelona in 2013.
PSG were in control after taking the lead at Camp Nou until Messi came on as a substitute to set up Pedro for Barcelona's equaliser as the Catalan team advanced on away goals.
"We were leading before Messi came in, and once he came in, Barcelona scored," Beckham said.
While Messi was blessed with incredible natural ability, Ronaldo worked very hard on his game to be where he is now.
And Rooney said everyone needs to doff their hats to the Portuguese for his relentless desire to improve.
"Ronaldo wasn't as focused on goals when we started playing together but you could see that all he wanted was to be the best player in the world," Rooney told the Sunday Times.
"He practised and practised and began to produce. Cristiano has become an incredible scorer and he and Messi are arguably the best two players the game has seen.
"But despite my friendship with Cristiano, I'd go for Messi. It's for the same reason I loved watching Xavi and Scholes: it's the different things in Messi's game.
"I've talked about composure and I can't remember seeing Messi score when he has hit the ball as hard as he could. He just rolls them in, makes it so easy.
"Ronaldo is ruthless in the box, a killer. But Messi will torture you before he kills you. With Messi you just get the impression he is having more fun. Those two have completely changed the game in terms of goalscoring numbers and I don't think they'll ever be matched."

By Rituraj Borkakoty

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Portugal and Juventus ace Cristiano Ronaldo. — AFP file
Portugal and Juventus ace Cristiano Ronaldo. — AFP file

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