The rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo never will die, as long as the soccer superstars ply their trades at the same time.

Ronaldo told France Football Magazine on Monday that his rivalry with Messi is good for both players and the sport itself. Ronaldo said both players’ success (and that of their respective club and national teams) pushes them to reach higher heights than they otherwise would hit.

“I’m sure that the competition between us is a motivating factor for him, too,” Ronaldo said, according to Spanish newspaper AS. “It’s good for me, for him and for other players who are keen to grow. Messi has four Ballon d’Or awards, I have three. This is all good for the world of football.”

Either Ronaldo, 29, and Messi, 27, has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or (or FIFA’s World Player of the Year) every year since 2008. The fact that Ronaldo and Messi perennially out-shine other players bores some observers, who choose to speculate about the nature of the stars’ personal relationship.

We learned last week that Ronaldo’s 4-year-old son, Cristiano Jr., is a Messi fan. In 2012, Ronaldo said he and Messi aren’t “real friends.” That’s about all we know for certain.

For now, the sporting public must accept that Ronaldo and Messi might not have strong, personal feelings about one another. However, they fuel each others’ respective professional fires.

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