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Ronaldo declares Messi rivalry over

Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi - BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

The eternal rivalry between himself and Lionel Messi is "gone," Cristiano Ronaldo said on Thursday.

The 38-year-old Al-Nassr forward spoke ahead of Portugal's Euro qualifier against Slovakia on Friday.

With Messi now at Inter Miami and Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia and neither in La Liga, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner considers their yearslong competition to have concluded.

"The rivalry is gone," Ronaldo said. "It was good, the spectators liked it. We shared the stage for 15 years and ended up being, I'm not saying friends, but we are professional colleagues and we respect each other."

Ronaldo and Messi spent nine years in Spain at the same time with the former at Real Madrid and the latter at Barcelona from 2009 to 2018. During that time, Ronaldo won two league titles, two Copas del Rey and four Champions League titles. For his part, Messi - a seven-time Ballon d'Or winner - won six La Liga crowns, five Copas del Rey and two Champions League titles.

The Funchal native denied the suggestion that emnity between fan bases fueled the two men's rivalry.

"Those who like Cristiano Ronaldo don't have to hate Messi," Ronaldo said. "I don't see the rivalry like that."

Through four matches in Group J qualifying that kicked off in March, Portugal sits atop the group with a perfect 12 points. Following the match in Bratislava, Portugal returns home to face off with minnows Luxembourg on Monday at Estadio Algarve.