Cristiano Ronaldo beats Lionel Messi to the footballer of the year 2017 award at the London Palladium recently, and many people expect to see signs of jealousy and rivalry, as much was made of both players going head-to-head for the same prize, sat side-by-side in the same room, However, it was Renaldo, the Real Madrid forward who won the award for a second year running.
One thing great people have in common is that they recognise and esteem one another. When Cristiano Ronaldo was named the Best Player of the year at the FIFA world football awards, he made some efforts to recognise the presence of Messi. Not only did they engage one another in chats and banter, Ronaldo also acknowledged Messi’s presence during his Winner’s Acceptance Speech. That is what great people have in common – mutual respect. They do not see each other as rivals but as colleagues. Luciano Pavarotti, the most successful Opera tenor of all time, puts it like this: “The rivalry is with me. I try to be better than is possible. I fight against myself, not against the other.”
After a shortlist of Ronaldo and Messi and Paris Saint-Germaine’s world record signing, Neymar, Ronaldo beats Lionel Messi and Neymar to the illustrious prize. The 32-year-old Real Madrid and Portugal superstar who is currently on a weekly salary of £365,000 said: “Thank you a lot for this, I have to mention Lionel and Neymar for being here. I want to thank the Real Madrid supporters, my team-mates, my coach, my president…”
Rivalry! What rivalry?
That was not the first time the pair greeted each other in public proving there’s no animosity between them. At the Ballon d’Or gala ceremony in 2014, Messi approached Ronaldo’s son, also known as Cristiano Junior to say hello and had a few chats with the little boy. During his speech later on the day, he told a reporter that Ronaldo deserved to win the award. That is nothing but class!
Apparently, both footballers admire and emulate each other. And that is quite okay according to the French novelist, Honoré de Balzac, who said “Emulation is not rivalry. Emulation is the child of ambition; rivalry is the unlovable daughter of envy.”
Many footballers attended the Ballon d’Or gala ceremony at the London Palladium, and you might be forgiven to think that they were so consumed by rivalry and competitive spirit and would even avoid eye contacts with their rivals, not to talk about mentioning their competitor’s name in public. But it was great to see that despite Ronaldo piping Messi to win the award the Argentine displays a genuine smile and looked somewhat comfortable at the event. You could argue that the Argentine has more important things on his mind right now than petty jealousy as he is close to finalising a £500,000-a-week contract at the Nou Camp.
Another sensational year
Ronaldo has enjoyed another sensational year, during the 2016-17 campaign scoring 45 goals in 48 appearances and winning the Champions League and La Liga.
Although Ronaldo won the award last year and defended his crown at the event a few weeks ago at the London Palladium. Messi, for his part, contributed 49 goals and 11 assists in 50 appearances in 2017 for Barcelona and Argentina but was once again second best as Ronaldo took home the award. The third nominee was Neymar, who became the most expensive player in the world when he joined Paris Saint-Germaine in the summer.
Ronaldo’s son is a fan of Messi
Ronaldo revealed that his seven-year-old son Cristiano junior was a fan of his ‘rival’ Messi. Ronaldo made the revelation after they met up with the Argentina captain at the2014 Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich. At the event, the two players had a friendly exchange in the lobby of Zurich’s Kongresshaus when Ronaldo pointed at Messi and then stood up to greet him. The Real Madrid’s striker told his competitor Messi: “He watches a video on the internet of all of us and he talks about you.”
That revelation was a humble and kind gesture from Ronaldo towards someone who is perceived as a rival. Remember what the book of James says about humility? James 4:6 “…God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Did you know that many people would be so proud and arrogant that they would not be able to say anything positive about their competitor, not to mention that their son is a fan of their rival for fear that it might make them appear weak or inferior?
Competition can be healthy, but rivalry is always bitter. Beth Moore, the American evangelist and author says “Insecurity is at the heart of every rivalry.” This does not mean that we should not have healthy ambitions to win or trying to be the best as much as we can be. That kind of desire is healthy and is definitely not wrong. But it becomes unhealthy when we unduly criticise or undermine others just because we are uncomfortable with their success or we see them as a threat or rival. Let us always seek to esteem one another as advised by Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3 “ Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”