Sir Alex Ferguson: Cristiano Ronaldo’s versatility sets him apart from Lionel Messi

Sir Alex Ferguson: Ronaldo’s versatility sets him apart from Messi

18/05/2016 at 19:17Updated 18/05/2016 at 20:33

Sir Alex Ferguson insists that Cristiano Ronaldo’s versatility sets him apart from Lionel Messi.

The former Manchester United manager, who coached the Portuguese star before he moved to Real Madrid for £80million in 2009, has waded into the ongoing debate about which of the two stars is better.

With the pair commonly believed to be the top two in the modern era, with no others winning a Ballon d’Or since 2007 when Kaka took the gong, Ferguson comes down on his former charge’s side.

Ronaldo (Real Madrid) contre La Corogne

Ronaldo (Real Madrid) contre La CorogneAFP

"It's interesting to me that we hear so much about two players these days: Ronaldo and Messi," said Ferguson.

"Now don't get me wrong, Messi is a fantastic player, it's like he's wearing slippers when he controls the ball, but here, for me, is the difference: Messi is a Barcelona player but Ronaldo could play for Stockport County and score a hat-trick.

"He has everything. He can shoot with both feet, head the ball, he's as brave as a lion, and here's something else people overlook. During my time at Manchester United I was lucky enough to have a lot of people who put in countless extra hours to get better.

Lionel Messi

Lionel MessiAFP

"Gary Neville turned himself from an average footballer into a wonderful one because of his work ethic, as did David Beckham, but Ronaldo used to completely exhaust himself, and still does. He just wanted to be the best in the world."

Ferguson added that Eric Cantona, who played for United from 1992 and 1997, was perhaps the first person during his time at the club to add another layer of professionalism.

"I remember Eric's first day and after the training session had finished he asked for a goalkeeper, two players from the junior team who were still there, and a few footballs," he said. "I said to him what did he need those for and he said he wanted to practise.

"When word got back to the other players, one or two more turned up the next day for an extra session and so the number grew. That was all because of Cantona's work ethic and influence."