Alves has faced former Real Madrid forward Ronaldo on numerous occasions in club football – most notably during their time in Spain, while the pair have also clashed on the international stage with Brazil and Portugal.
The fierce rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona has always prevented Alves from expressing his true feelings for Ronaldo, the Brazil international has admitted.
Now playing his club football for Mexican side Universidad Nacional, Alves is more comfortable talking about Spanish football and his former rivals in Madrid – including Ronaldo.
“I love Cristiano. Now we are no longer at Barca or Madrid, I can speak, as it always seemed I couldn’t,” Alves told podcast host Efrio Velarde, as reported by Marca and Football Espana.
“Cristiano is an example, for all of us who don’t have that much quality, that with hard work you can compete with the best. I have a lot of respect for him and I had the opportunity to tell him that.”
Alves also revealed he once had a “feud” with Ronaldo after the Portuguese star snubbed him at a Ballon d’Or ceremony.
“There was a moment, because of the rivalry, I went to greet him and he ignored me,” Alves added.
“There was an argument that never came up, but in the dressing room at the Ballon d’Or we had a ‘fight’. I was greeting everyone and he ignored me because of the Barca-Madrid rivalry.
“I identify with him because everything I did in my life was based on work.
“As a player, I am closer to Cristiano than [Lionel] Messi, because of work, not because of talent. Leo is a born talent, at a level that only he can achieve.”
It remains to be seen how grateful Ronaldo will be for Alves’ praise, particularly his suggestion that the Portuguese forward is not on the same level as his great rival, Lionel Messi.
Alves, meanwhile, added that he is confident of being included in Brazil’s World Cup squad for Qatar, despite not being called up by manager Tite for the current international break.
If Alves receives a call-up for the tournament, the 39-year-old could overtake former Real Madrid full-back Roberto Carlos as Brazil’s second most capped player of all time.
Alves has featured 124 times compared to Carlos’ 125, but the former Barcelona defender is unlikely to surpass Brazil’s most capped player, Cafu, who made 142 appearances for his national team.
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