Rio Ferdinand, a Manchester United legend, omitted both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo from his list of the four greatest athletes of all time.
While none of the footballers could make it, the ex-defender’s first thought was of famed boxer Muhammad Ali. He then chose Mike Tyson from the boxing community as his next opponent.
Ferdinand chose former NBA star Michael Jordan and probably the best tennis player of all time, Roger Federer, to round off his selection of four.
In this case, the pundit avoided choosing between Messi and Ronaldo. However, when asked about the partnership in 2015, he provided an intriguing point of view. According to him (via Bleacher Report):
“Ronaldo is like a driven, well-oiled machine who has made himself a superstar. Messi is more of a natural, it’s been given to him. Someone has looked down and said ‘You’re the man’. If you were going to build a footballer, you’d build Ronaldo.”
Ferdinand appears to have chosen his old Manchester United comrade above the Argentine captain. He did, however, lavish admiration on the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, describing Messi as “an artist, a genius.”
Ronaldo and Ferdinand shared the pitch at Old Trafford 221 times without scoring a goal together. Among other accomplishments with Manchester United, the pair won three Premier League crowns and one UEFA Champions League trophy together.
Who Does Roy Keane Consider the GOAT?
When asked by Gary Neville on Sky’s Overlap in 2021, Pundit Roy Keane chose his old Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo over Lionel Messi.
However, Keane had previously reached this conclusion. He chose the Portuguese great, with whom he has played 68 times for Manchester United while covering the 2018 FIFA World Cup. According to Keane (via Republic World):
“I think there has been a great debate about him [Ronaldo] and Messi, but over the last six months, I think he’s on a new level — Ronaldo’s out there on his own. It’s not natural ability, as brilliant as he is, it’s sheer hard work.”
“He’s got a lot of courage, he’s brave, and the guy is a genius. I think his form over the last few months, I’d have him above Messi.”
Keane and Ronaldo combined for four goals in four appearances, with the commentator providing two assists for the Al-Nassr striker and vice versa.