The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Ronaldo vs. Messi: our opinions on football’s G.O.A.T.

Ivan Sandoval-Navarro

A ball, a goal and some friends — that’s all it takes to play football.

Football is a game built upon simplicity. It’s no surprise that it’s the most popular sport in the world — 1.5 billion people watched the 2022 World Cup. With such a diverse fanbase, the fact that so many come together to enjoy football is remarkable.

Football is a game played at many different levels — whether played in recreation leagues, European leagues or national teams, the game is truly universal. One of the universally debated topics is the age-old argument of who the greatest player of all time is. In our opinion, this debate crumbles down to two legendary players: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Argument for Ronaldo

Christiano Ronaldo is an icon in the football industry, and his skills are unmatched — except by Messi. So while stats-wise, Messi is better, it’s not the be-all-end-all factor. Take this: Is the Weeknd the best artist of all time? For most, the answer is no; despite having the most monthly listeners (as of April 2024 on Spotify), many listeners like other artists more. Numbers aren’t what decide if someone is the G.O.A.T.; rather it’s a mix of their likability, overall character and skill.

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When it comes to crowd reaction moments, no one comes close to Ronaldo. His widely known celebration “Suiii” has become the base for moments historic to not only the sport but the internet as a whole. On the other hand, Messi has many, lesser-known, celebrations. This 11-minute video shows all his different celebrations — talk about loyalty.

Especially recently, Ronaldo’s celebration has become quite popular, boosted by YouTube streamer IShowSpeed, who actively supports Ronaldo and disses Messi. For example, he even bought a $500,000, Ronaldo-wrapped Lamborghini and made a song about him with over 34 million views. While the song is hilarious, it points out a problem about Messi, he is 5 ‘7 ” — shorter than both Rihanna and Ye. Who’s mans is this?

While some argue that Ronaldo is only chasing money — like Messi did by joining the Major League Soccer (MLS) — Ronaldo is the most charitable football player in the world, even being given an “Athletes Gone Good Award” for his work by, a non-profit organization started in 1993. 

Ronaldo uses his popularity in his fight against obesity. For example, Ronaldo advocated for people to “Drink Water” to a crowd during a post-game interview, despite Coca-Cola being one of the tournament’s biggest sponsors. Despite all the money that Ronaldo could make through promoting the product, this act shows that he cares more about his fans.

Speaking of awards, Ronaldo also auctioned one of his five Ballon d’Or trophies — a trophy given by the French magazine “French Football” to the person who was deemed the best of the previous season — to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, raising over $600,000. 

Ronaldo has proven time and time again that he fights for what is right, whether the cause be cancer or obesity, and fans love him for doing it. So in a test of skill and stats, sure Messi has a slight edge on Ronaldo. But judging them by their character, it’s clear that Ronaldo is the greatest of all time. Keep that in mind when you are reading the Wikipedia page down below.

Argument for Messi

Lionel Messi’s achievements speak for themselves: In winning a record eight Ballon d’Ors, six European Golden Shoes and being awarded FIFA’s World’s Best Player eight times, Messi has cemented himself as the greatest player in the history of football. 

From the get-go, Messi’s technical skills dwarf the majority of the competition in his native Argentina. In particular, his strategic prowess and spatial recognition on the field make him a one-of-a-kind player. While he’s a shorter player with a stockier build, he plays a smart game adored by students of the game. Through his lightning-quick speed and his finesse finishes, football icon Zinedine Zidane described his game with one word: magic

Along with being such a skilled player, Messi is known for his reputable character. Other players, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, tend to be drawn to the fame and notoriety that come with playing football. Ronaldo’s a showman — through his unique, electric celebrations and highly publicized love life, it’s no secret he loves being famous. 

Messi, on the other hand, resembles an average guy who’s good at his sport rather than a world-class athlete. He casually plays video games and enjoys playing basketball, and he married his childhood sweetheart. He’s been known to shy away from the spotlight, putting his love of the game and his family before anything else. In his own words, “I’m more worried about being a good person than being the best football player in the world.”

While Messi’s off-the-court personality is respectable, what makes him such a praised figure in football is his devotion to the game. Despite being 36, his athleticism and skill have not diminished — in fact, he’s only seemed to get better with age, and has remained the reigning Ballon d’Or winner (an award given to the greatest football player in the world by France Football, a French magazine). 

While Messi is talented on his own, a lot of his universal acclaim comes from his team’s success. Through helping his country win the World Cup (something Ronaldo couldn’t do) and spending 17 years on FC Barcelona (longer than any organization Ronaldo’s been a part of), Messi has shown that he is a team player who’s not ditching his team every few years (like Ronaldo). With respect to Ronaldo, he’s the sport’s all-time goal scorer: if we’re talking about offensive ability, he’s one of the greatest to ever do it.


How do you define greatness in sports? Is it career longevity? Is it team success?

The title of “greatest of all time” is inherently flawed. There’s not one award or rule that can definitively state who the G.O.A.T. is. Sports are rife with personal biases, whether it’s supporting our hometown teams or our favorite players. Giving unofficial distinctions in sports is all based on interpretation.

That said, greatness in sports should be defined by how a player has impacted the game. Who will kids look up to? Who’s helped to redefine their sport? If we define it that way, Messi is leagues above Ronaldo.

Who would you rather have as the face of your sport? The decorated, World Cup winning, devoted family man or the less decorated, World Cup losing, social media influencer? For most, the choice is pretty clear. Messi is the greatest football player of all time.

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About the Contributors
Ivan Sandoval-Navarro
Ivan Sandoval-Navarro, Staff Writer
Tyler Elman
Tyler Elman, Staff Writer

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