The success enjoyed by Cristiano Ronaldo over the course of his career is “more impressive” than that taken in by Lionel Messi, says Iker Casillas.
Two iconic figures of the modern era have raised the bar when it comes to individual excellence.
Between them they have collected 11 Ballons d’Or, countless major honours and re-written the history books on a regular basis with their record-breaking exploits.
Both are assured of a place among the all-time greats, but debate as to who can be considered the best appears set to rage for as long as they remain at the top of their respective games.
For Casillas, a Real Madrid icon gets the nod over a Barcelona legend.
Given his strong ties to the Blancos, that should come as no surprise, although the World Cup-winning goalkeeper has sought to justify his decision.
Casillas told ESPN: “Cristiano always had huge desire to be the best, ever since he was a boy and I believe he has achieved that.
“If I have to compare him to Messi, what Cristiano has done is more impressive because we all know the talent Messi has, but Cristiano was determined and worked hard to be the best.
“I feel we have been lucky to have been able to enjoy two phenomenal players.
“For people that don't know Cristiano, he can appear to be cocky and arrogant, but it's totally the opposite.”
Casillas spent six years working alongside Ronaldo at Santiago Bernabeu before taking the tough decision to leave his roots in Madrid and head for Porto in 2015.
At 39 years of age, he has now headed into retirement.
That decision was forced upon him somewhat, with Casillas taking in a serious health scare back in May 2019.
A man capped on 167 occasions by Spain has recovered from a heart attack suffered during a training session in Portugal and counts his blessings every day that he still has so many fond memories to look back on.
Casillas added: “I was very fortunate with how things turned out, sadly it's not the case for everyone.
“It has changed me, you must do the things you like doing and live your life.
“I have spoken to people that I had not spoken to for a long time. I now live day to day, focus on what I can do today and not worry about tomorrow or next week.”