Brazilian full-back Dani Alves has always appeared to be outspoken on matters important to him, yet the former Barcelona defender has now lifted the lid of his opinion of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Whilst the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is clear, it still comes as a shock to find out a player for one team couldn’t talk honestly about a player from the other side.
“I love Cristiano. Now that we’re no longer at Barcelona and Real Madrid, it seems that I can talk, because it always seemed like I couldn’t,” Alves detailed on Efrian Velarde’s podcast.
“Cristiano exemplifies, for all of us, the best example of what we can do. Cristiano exemplifies, for all of us who don’t have so much quality, that with hard work you can also compete against the best.
“I respect him a lot and I had the opportunity to tell him that.”
The controversial Ballon d’Or gala
Another of the anecdotes told by Dani Alves sums up perfectly the situation that occurred in the dressing rooms during the period of intense rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
“There came a time because of the rivalry that I would go over to greet him [Ronaldo] and he wouldn’t greet me,” he continued.
“There was a controversy that never came out, but in the dressing room of the Ballon d’Or ceremony we had a scuffle, I greeted everyone and he didn’t greet me because of what the Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry was generating outside.”
“How can I not respect a guy who has achieved everything based on hard work and putting his heart and soul into it?
When asked about comparing Ronaldo and Messi, the Brazilian gave an answer that was actually far closer related to his own self-identity.
“I identify with him, because everything I’ve done in my life has been based on work. If you were to make a comparison, as a player I’m closer to Cristiano than Leo because of the work, not because of the talent, because Leo is a born talent,” he added.
“He was born with the talent to play football and to be in another world that only he can reach.”