CRISTIANO RONALDO believes he's the world's greatest footballer – but he shocked Piers Morgan by naming Lionel Messi as the best he's faced.
Ronaldo's "unlikely" friend Morgan insists the legend's huge self-confidence is wrongly mistaken for arrogance.
But the TV celebrity admits he was surprised when Manchester United's returning hero Ron, 36, named 34-year-old GOAT rival Messi as his finest opponent.
Morgan wrote in the Mail on Sunday: "'Who's the greatest footballer you've ever played against?' I asked Cristiano Ronaldo.
"It was 1am on the candlelit terrace of his favourite restaurant in Turin, Italy, where he was still playing for Juventus before his recent sensational decision to rejoin Manchester United.
"It was time for the big question. 'Messi,' he replied, immediately and emphatically.
'Really?' I said, surprised that he would name his biggest rival.
'For sure. He is the best I've played against.'
"Then he grinned. 'But Piers, you are asking me the wrong question'
'OK. What's the right question?' 'You should just ask me who is the greatest player…'
'I think I know the answer,' I replied, laughing.
"Ronaldo winked and we clinked glasses. He believes he's the best to ever play the game. And I agree with him."
SunSport revealed last October how footballers who appeared alongside six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi and five-timer Ronaldo seemed to narrowly rate the Argentinian ahead of the Portugal icon.
Of 12 players to comment, six were unable to choose – but five of the remaining half dozen opted for Messi.
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Ronaldo's late matchwinning double against Ireland last Wednesday made him the world record-scorer for international goals on 111.
But his booking for taking off his shirt to celebrate means he misses Portugal's other two World Cup qualifiers this month.
Meanwhile, Barcelona legend Messi is also on international duty before returning to new club PSG.
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