I was 8 years old when I first got my heart broken. The year was 1994, the year of the US World Cup. I had invested a lot of emotions in the Italian team, which was led by Roberto Baggio, my favorite player. I made a bet with my father, an avid Brazil supporter, that Italy was going to win the tournament and that Baggio was going to score the winning goal.

I knew the odds were against me when, during the second half of the game, we lost electricity and we had to listen to the rest of the game on the radio. Sadly, Italy lost that final, and Baggio missed the last penalty kick.

Since then I had never been able to fall in love with an Italian national team.

Regardless of that experience, I did not stop watching soccer, if anything I became a bigger fan. I have seen the greatest players of our time play: Maradona, Romario, Ronaldo, Zidane, Del Piero, among many, many others. Still I never thought it would be possible to see, what I’ve seen in the last six years.

Ronaldinho Gaucho was the last false prophet. Perhaps I will never see someone play with the same magic the Brazilian had, but what Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been able to do in the past five years goes beyond anything the Brazilian was able to achieve.

What these two do every weekend feels like it is the new normal, perhaps that’s why many soccer fans take them for granted. When I hear someone talk about “the new Messi” I realize that 99% of the time that person has no idea of who Messi really is.

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The other 1% is irony.

We are probably never going to see the another Messi, nor Ronaldo for that matter. 

When speaking about them, many people talk about nature vs nurture. Messi was born with a gift, while Ronaldo has had to work hard to reach his goals. Of course this is a simplistic argument, Messi has also had to work hard, having “the gift” is not enough to secure yourself the number one spot. Ronaldinho is perhaps the greatest example of this.

It is also simpleminded to think that Cristiano Ronaldo is not a gifted player, but due to his style he depends more on his physical strength than Messi.

Many of the arguments against one or the other, is also due to the fact that they both lead rival teams. Ronaldo’s Real Madrid and Messi’s Barcelona, are not only divided by a sports rivalry, there is a political rivalry between both regions, one the capital of the country, and the other the capital of a region that wants (by some of their population)  to be independent. While this is part of the game, what would be of soccer without a good rivalry, sometimes the players receive some harsh criticism by pundits and fans that try to diminish the other greatness. 

In spite of their rivalry it seems like both players need each other.

They make each other better. The 2013-2014 season was perhaps Messi’s worst season as professional player. Barcelona did not win any major tournament that year, and Argentina lost the World Cup final in Brazil.

On top of that Cristiano Ronaldo won Real Madrid’s 10th Champions League and took home his third Ballon D’Or, the highest individual award in soccer. In his acceptance speech Ronaldo said he wanted to conquer Messi’s record. The Argentine has won it four times, it was a public challenge.

Messi smiled hearing Ronaldo’s words, and responded with an amazing second half of the season, winning the treble, La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League, making Barcelona the first team in history to win a treble twice. Meanwhile Ronaldo was left with a blank season.

Now a new season has begun, and there is no doubt that both players will continue to make history. You can love them or hate them, but you can’t be indifferent to them, they are gods among us.