Messi: Ronaldo was my hero
© AFP

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, widely considered the best player in the world, has revealed that Ronaldo was one of his heroes - but not his Portuguese rival.

"Ronaldo was my hero," Messi was quoted as saying in the latest edition of British football magazine FourFourTwo, referring to the Brazilian Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, not Real Madrid's Cristiano, with whom he is vying for the FIFA Ballon d'Or.

"I loved watching players like [Zinedine] Zidane, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo but Ronaldo was the best striker I've ever seen," he added. "He was so fast he could score from nothing, and could shoot the ball better than anyone I've ever seen."

Messi, 25, is among the 23 candidates shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the world's best footballer. Like Ronaldo, who also played at Barcelona, and France legend Zidane, he has won the prestigious accolade three times.