Cristiano Ronaldo does not believe winning the World Cup will impact either his or Lionel Messi ’s legacy after Argentina defeated France in a memorable final.
Messi netted two goals in the encounter – opening the scoring from the penalty spot before restoring Argentina’s lead in the second half of extra-time after Lautaro Martinez’s initial effort was saved by Hugo Lloris – while also finding the net in the penalty shootout victory.
The Argentine superstar was pipped to the Golden Boot title by his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe – whose remarkable hat-trick in the final saw him was the first treble in the game since Geoff Hurst in 1966 – but this will be remembered as Messi’s World Cup, and could reinforce his position as the greatest footballer of all time.
The 35-year-old had already confirmed that this would be his final World Cup and that he would not be representing his nation in the 2026 edition, while this was also the final tournament for Ronaldo – whose Portugal side were beaten 1-0 by Morocco in their quarter-final in Qatar.
Ronaldo went straight down the tunnel in tears after missing out on the chance to add the only major honour missing from his glittering CV. The striker, who is currently without a club after leaving Manchester United last month, will be aged 41 by the time of the next World Cup.
Yet prior to Portugal’s elimination from the tournament, Ronaldo rejected suggestions that his legacy or that of anyone else would be impacted by whether or not they ended up winning the World Cup.
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Asked if this World Cup would decide the debate about football’s greatest ever player, Ronaldo said: “Even if I win the World Cup that will continue. Some people like me more, some less. It’s like in life, some like blondes, some like brunettes.
“I have always had to show what I can do year after year. I would love to win this tournament. I’m ambitious but if you tell me I won’t win any more tournaments I would still be happy given all I have won. In the history books all other records will be there. But obviously a World Cup on the shelf wouldn’t be bad. It would be a dream.”
Messi has now bowed out of football’s greatest competition by completing his trophy set as he led his nation to their first World Cup trophy since 1986, as France were denied the opportunity of becoming the first nation since Brazil in 1962 to retain their trophy.