According to Cristiano Ronaldo, the constant comparisons to and ranking of him and Lionel Messi are slightly annoying but ultimately disregardable facts of life. According to a new book, though, Ronaldo takes the rivalry much more seriously and has a whole behind-the-scenes protocol for how he and his teammates deal with the Barcelona forward.
The Telegraph has an excerpt from Guillem Balague's upcoming book, MESSI, which touches on the frosty though publicly polite relationship between the world's two best players. It starts with some anecdotes about how the two men both bristle at comparisons to one another, and how they are quick to diffuse any notion that they hate each other.
At least outwardly. It continues:
Ronaldo, perhaps as a symptom of the immaturity that marks so many footballers, thinks it necessary to put on a brave face in front of his team-mates, not be scared of Messi and to rise to the challenge. All very macho; all very false.
And that is why, according to some Real Madrid players, CR7 has a nickname for him: 'motherf——r'; and if he sees someone from the club speaking to Leo, he also ends up being baptised 'motherf——r'.
In that environment, Ronaldo usually compares their relationship with that between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. And the Madrid players, with their less than subtle dressing-room sense of humour, have a long list of jokes that include Messi as Ronaldo's dog or puppet, or kept in a designer handbag belonging to the Portuguese player. And much worse.
Well that doesn't sound very nice, Ronaldo. No need to take being second best so personally.