Diego Maradona hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as a “sorcerer” after the magical Juventus star fulfilled his pre-match prediction by scoring a hat-trick against Atletico Madrid.
The Italian club’s share price shot up by 20% after reaching the Champions League quarter-finals to pay back another chunk of the Portuguese’s £85m transfer fee.
And Maradona said: “There are players who have been touched by a magic wand. We Argentines are proud that Lionel Messi is Argentinian.
“The other one is an animal. Ronaldo is pure power, and now he’s also a sorcerer. He said he’d score three goals and he scored three goals.”
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star netted his eighth Champions League hat-trick to draw level with Messi to extend his record tally to 124 goals in 160 matches. He has scored 63 times in the knockout stages.
With Juventus bidding to win the Champions League for the first time since 1996, midfielder Blaise Matuidi said: “He has already won the competition five times, he can win it again. He showed again on Tuesday that he is the No.1.”
By contrast, the Spanish press were left to rue the loss of Ronaldo following Real Madrid’s humiliating defeat to Ajax last week.
“Madrid should never have let a player like this escape, when he had a contract, was the all-time top scorer and one of the patrons of the four Champions League wins,” said sports daily Marca.
“They gave away a legend for 100 million euros. We just saw that Ronaldo is priceless. Letting him go was a historic error. Cristiano wasn’t worth 100 million euros, he was worth a billion.” Rio Ferdinand told BT Sports he considers Ronaldo as a “football god”.
In a related development, former World Footballer of the Year, Ruud Gullit has rated CRISTIANO RONALDO as a better player than Argentine Lionel Messi.
The Dutchman said Cristiano will go down as a better player than his old Barcelona rival Lionel Messi, so said legendary Netherlands and AC Milan midfielder Ruud Gullit.
It is an age-old debate between fans over who is better between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The pair regularly came head-to-head during Ronaldo’s nine years in La Liga with Real Madrid.
The Portuguese has now moved on to Juventus, his fourth different club in Europe.
And Gullit believes that is why Cristiano Ronaldo has to be regarded as the better player.
He also mentioned how Ronaldo helped Portugal win the European Championships in 2016, with Barcelona star Messi yet to win a major tournament with Argentina.
“I think he is [the greatest of all time],” Gullit said of Ronaldo on beIN SPORTS. “He won also with his country, European Championship. Messi also can be there with all the best footballers but it’s a little bit the icing on the cake the fact that he played in three different countries and he’s done it,’ Ruud Gullit said on why Cristiano Ronaldo is better than Lionel Messi.
“He has done it with all the clubs he has been at, Champions League also with Man United. He’s been in three different countries, best footballer all the time. He won how many times the Golden Ball? Five times, six times?
“What he achieved for any team he’s played for is unbelievable. Messi couldn’t do it with Argentina, he’s been close. But it counts if you also do that. Messi also can be there with all the best footballers but it’s a little bit the icing on the cake the fact that he played in three different countries and he’s done it. He did it his way and you can only say ‘bow for this guy’ and say what a player, unbelievable. They all admire him for his work ethic, even now. He’s wanting to be more fit.”