Former Manchester United player Phil Neville was at the Bernabeu to witness Cristiano Ronaldo, his former team-mate, scoring a hat-trick for Real Madrid in their 3-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg win over Atletico Madrid.
He said after the match: “I listened to my dad talk for 20 years about George Best and Pele and Cristiano Ronaldo is easily the equal of those.
“What sets Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi apart is that they deliver on the big occasion. We aren’t talking about the two best players in the world, we are talking about the two best players who have ever lived. I think that’s how good these two players are.
“They take you to places no other player in the world can – and on Tuesday we saw a phenomenal performance from Ronaldo. You are talking about someone who scores left foot, right foot and he is fantastic in the air. The way he can control the ball with both feet, the speed at which he runs – at 32 years of age he has just scored a hat-trick in a semi-final,” Neville stated.
Ronaldo and Messi push each other on. Messi got all the plaudits after the recent match against Real Madrid, but Ronaldo has raised the bar again.
“Every time I see him I am amazed at his drive and determination to be the best in the world – and on Tuesday it was a ‘wow’ performance from him.
“He has natural ability coupled with hard work. He is a tremendous example of where hard work can take you.
When we were at Manchester United he said he wanted to go on to be the best player in the world. He had the self-belief to get to the very top. I look at Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, United’s Carrington training ground is maybe a mile, two miles around. Every single day he used to take a ball after training and run and do his tricks for a mile, two miles at a time. His drive and his ability to practise every single day is just phenomenal.