Rooney addresses Cristiano Ronaldo ‘putdown’ after Messi claim

World Cup final preview: Argentina v France

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Manchester United icon Wayne Rooney has clarified his “putdown” tweet to Cristiano Ronaldo after claiming that Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time. The ex-United players have gone back and forth as the Portugal captain namedropped the DC United boss during his controversial interview with Piers Morgan, and Rooney has since made his stance clear on the two greatest players of their generation, after Messi led his side to the World Cup final.

After the Argentina captain registered two assists and scored in his country’s 3-0 win over Croatia to reach the final on Sunday, Rooney took to Twitter to reference a tweet he sent in 2012. Ten years ago he wrote: “Messi is a joke. For me the best ever.”

The former England captain then doubled down on his stance on Wednesday morning, adding: “Nothing has changed,” with a goat emoji, symbolising the acronym for greatest of all time.

Many fans felt this was a subtle dig towards his former team-mate Ronaldo, who had been dropped from the Portugal team as they crashed out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage to Morocco, but Rooney explained his viewpoint.

“In 2012, I wrote the following on Twitter: ‘Messi is a joke. For me the best ever.’ On Wednesday morning, after watching him lead Argentina to the World Cup final with a masterclass against Croatia, I retweeted it with the words, ‘Nothing has changed,’” Rooney wrote in The Times.

“Some took that as a putdown to Cristiano Ronaldo but nothing could be further from the truth. I have the greatest respect for Cristiano and when people argue he is the greatest, I know where they are coming from and respect that opinion. But, for me, Messi is just different.

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“I admire both him and Cristiano for going about things their own way. Cristiano openly comes out and says, ‘I am the best, I want to be the best.’ When Messi talks he focuses more on the team and the trophies he wants to win. Neither is right or wrong. It is how two different personalities motivate themselves.

“At the moment, Ronaldo is going through a difficult period and he’s 37 but he and Messi have achievements to their names that I don’t think we’ll see from any footballers again. In some ways they needed each other and, deep down, I suspect they have enjoyed their rivalry.”

Messi has a chance to separate himself from Ronaldo in debates over the pair on Sunday, as he attempts to defeat France and lift the World Cup for the first time in his career, an achievement that even Ronaldo has yet to manage and at 37, will unlikely ever get another chance.

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