LONDON — Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, widely considered the best player in the world, has revealed that Ronaldo was one of his heroes — but not his Portuguese rival.
“Ronaldo was my hero,” Messi was quoted as saying in the latest edition of British football magazine FourFourTwo, referring to the Brazilian Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, not Real Madrid’s Cristiano, with whom he is vying for the Ballon d’Or.
“I loved watching players like (Zinedine) Zidane, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo but Ronaldo was the best striker I’ve ever seen,” he added.
“He was so fast he could score from nothing, and could shoot the ball better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Messi, 25, is tipped to pick up the Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best footballer. Like Ronaldo, who also played at Barcelona, and France legend Zidane he has won the prestigious accolade three times.
Inter Milan teen gets national team call up
Teenager Joseph Alfred Duncan, who has played four minutes of senior football, has received a call-up from Ghana for an African Nations Cup warm-up friendly against the Cape Verde Islands next week. The 19-year-old midfielder, who made his debut for Inter Milan against Pescara in August, is one of two newcomers named by coach Kwesi Appiah for the match in Lisbon next Tuesday.
The coach has picked a squad of fringe players, resting most of his regulars to look at possible back-up choices as Ghana use the game to prepare for January’s African Nations Cup finals in South Africa, where they meet the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Niger in their first-round group.
Capello calls up Belenov and Cheryshev
Fabio Capello has called up Kuban Krasnodar goalkeeper Alexander Belenov and Real Madrid midfielder Denis Cheryshev into his Russia squad to play a friendly against the United States in Krasnodar on Nov. 14. Belenov, who has been in fine form this season, helping his side to contest for the league title, gets his first ever callup.
Midfielder Cheryshev was a key player in the Russian Under-21 team which qualified for the Euro-2013 finals last month.
There was no place in the squad for Arsenal forward Andrei Arshavin and Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, although Capello chose Maxim Grigoriev of Lokomotiv Moscow to boost his midfield.
Grigoriev was in Capello’s squad for last month’s qualifiers against Portugal and Azerbaijan. He also brought in Zenit midfielder Igor Denisov. — Agencies