On Cristiano Ronaldo…
"Portugal have a national team called Cristiano Ronaldo and a group of players who run after him."
"Cristiano is a phenomenon. His style of play is unique. He is a player who, every day, wants to be better than he was yesterday. He's ambitious, with a huge ability to score goals and a very big influence in the dressing room. He is the greatest forward to ever wear the shirt of Madrid.”
"He's an unbelievable player. We have a pantheon of great players and Ronaldo definitely compares with any of them. Although he had a natural talent, he is in many ways manufactured himself – he practised and practised. He had a bit of the Eric Cantona about him in that way. He was definitely good value for Madrid.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
"The same thing happens to Ronaldo as it did to Beckham – people criticise them because they are envious that they’re very good-looking. But for me, Ronaldo’s the ideal player. He's fast, tall, is good with his head, is technically good, takes penalties and good free-kicks, and is a leader. I think Cristiano Ronaldo is a phenomenon.”
“Cristiano Ronaldo had been struggling for form at international level for years. The world's best player, along with Lionel Messi, seemed frustrated and petulant when playing for Portugal. But after a superb couple of games, Ronaldo started playing - scoring three goals and bringing Portugal to an unexpected semi-final. It is always great to see the best in a superstar. He has shown his countrymen that he deserves a monument in Lisbon.”
Diego Maradona during UEFA EURO 2012
“Messi is a great player, but Cristiano is absolutely tremendous. He is the best in the world because he's the most complete player. He is fast, powerful, scores goals, has so much quality and always helps his team out defensively if required. He is the perfect ten. I have never seen such a perfect football machine. Football has changed a lot, and I doubt that players such as Pele, Di Stefano and Maradona could do what Cristiano does now with such intensity.”
On Andres Iniesta…
“Definitely Andres Iniesta. It’s not that difficult to play well and win titles in a team like Barcelona, but it’s in the national side where you see a player’s true class. That was the case with figures like Pele, Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane. With Spain, Iniesta has shown that he is among the best players of all time and that’s why I rate him higher than Messi or Ronaldo. Even though the latter two have incredible scoring records for their clubs, they still haven’t won anything with Argentina or Portugal respectively.”
Boris Becker on who should win the FIFA Ballon d’Or
“The press often ask me about whether Messi or Ronaldo is the best, but for me something is very clear: Andres Iniesta is the number one. He is able to do even more difficult things on the pitch. He is magic with the ball and so influential.”
"There is not as much talk about Iniesta as there is about Messi, but I would like him to win the Ballon d'Or. He deserves it for his career with Barcelona and Spain, and for his virtues. He does everything right: he sets up chances like only a few can and he also scores regularly. Iniesta is a magician who always knows what to do when he gets the ball.”
“He is the enlightened one, [someone] touched by a magic wand. He commands so much respect on the pitch. As a football lover, I am proud to have played with him. He makes the difference and does things that no one else can do."
"I watch Iniesta and realise that, even at my age, I could be learning new things."
Juan Roman Riquelme on a man six years his junior
“When he has the ball, it’s like everything else stops – like the camera is going in slow motion. “I’ve been playing with him since we were 15, and I have never, ever seen him play badly.”
On Lionel Messi…
"You cannot compare anyone to Messi. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great human footballer, but Messi is a Martian. He can run even faster with the ball than he can without it. It's as if he's playing another sport. It's almost impossible to do the things he does at that speed."
"My record stood for 40 years – 85 goals in 60 games – and now the best player in the world has broken it. I'm delighted for him. He is an incredible player, gigantic. He's such a nice and modest professional, and I hope he gets one or two more goals in 2012 and that he can then hold on to the record for the next 40 years. He's fantastic. He only has one defect and that is that he doesn't play for Bayern Munich!"
Gerd Muller on Lionel Messi after the little Argentinian broke his world scoring record in a calendar year
"Some people do not like Ronaldo because he is a great player, good-looking and has sex with all the ladies. People get jealous. The only bad thing about Ronaldo's life is Messi. If it was not for him, Ronaldo would have been the best player in the world for five years in a row now."
Luiz Felipe Scolari
“The Royal Spanish Academy needs to come up with a new word to define what Messi does out on the pitch.”
Alejandro Sabella urges the organisation responsible for regulating the Spanish language to invent a new adjective to describe his Argentina No10
"Messi is a God – as a person and even more so as a player. I hope that he wins the World Cup with Argentina. To the Gods of the world, all I ask is that you give him that chance.”
“Like Michael Jordan in basketball, Messi is dominating his sport. Very few people in history have managed to dominate their sport the way Jordan and Messi have. I feel sorry for those who want to compete for Messi's throne – it’s impossible, this kid is unique. He doesn’t just score lots of goals, but he scores lots of great goals, each one being better that the last.”