Virgil Van Dijk wins ballon d’Or, as C Ronaldo and Messi ends agelong rivalry

The night will go down in the memory of football lovers as a remarkable one. It was a night away from the known rivalry on the pitch.

For well over a decade now they’ve been fighting for supremacy and even at the age of 32 and 34 respectively they remain two of the world’s best players.

Thursday night’s UEFA awards ceremony in Monaco saw the pair reunited as they went head-to-head for Champions League Forward of the Season and Men’s Player of the Year.

Messi won Forward of the Season, much to Ronaldo’s frustration, but it was actually Van Dijk who was crowned Player of the Year following an outstanding season at Liverpool.

It means Van Dijk is now outright favourite to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or which, if it happens, would see Messi and Ronaldo miss out for a second year running.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that Messi and Ronaldo are no longer winning each and every individual award in football.

Their domination was bound to stop at some point and it seems to be having a positive effect on their rivalry.

Messi and Ronaldo have never been ‘friends’ so to speak, but at the UEFA awards, while sat side by side, they had some kind words for each other.

Spoiler alert: Ronaldo even invited Messi over for dinner.

When asked if he misses Ronaldo, Messi said in Spanish: “It was nice to have Cristiano in La Liga, especially since he was at Real Madrid.”

And then Ronaldo said in English: “We’ve shared the stage for 15 years, me and him. I don’t know if that’s ever happened in football, the same two guys, the same stage, all the time. It’s not easy.

We have a good relationship. We’ve not had dinner together – yet – but I hope to in the future.

“I miss playing in Spain, we had that battle the last 15 years which is good, he pushed me and I pushed him. It’s good to be in the history of football. I’m there and he’s there as well.”

Ronaldo was also asked if he could retire at the same time as Messi, to which he responded: “Well, he’s two years younger than me. I think I look good for my age, I’m not bad.

“I hope to be here next year and two years and three years, so the people that don’t like me, they’re going to see me here.”

You just can’t help but smile while watching and reading that. It will be a sad day for football when Messi and Ronaldo retire.

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