Lionel Messi’s public tears moved even Cristiano Ronaldo into his tent of supporters … if only for a moment in time.

Ronaldo on Sunday defended Messi’s decision to retire from international soccer, saying the former Argentina superstar struggles to cope with defeat. Ronaldo told Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo that he too felt pain at the sight of Messi’s public tears and shocking retirement announcement following Argentina’s June 26 loss to Chile in the Copa America final.

“Messi has taken a tough decision and people should understand,” Ronaldo said, according to The Mirror. “He is not accustomed to defeats and disappointments, not even finish the second. Missing a penalty does not make you a bad player.

“It hurts to see Messi in tears, and I hope he returns to his country, because he needs it.”

Ronaldo and Messi are soccer’s best players and biggest rivals, so it’s surprising to hear such compassion from the former to the latter.

Perhaps Ronaldo can sympathize with the one glaring void on Messi’s résumé. Despite being among soccer’s all-time greats and winning numerous trophies with their clubs (Barcelona and Real Madrid), neither Messi nor Ronaldo have won an international tournament at senior level in their careers.

We expect hostilities between the two to resume by the end of August. For now, let’s all say a collective “awwww.”

Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images