Former Barcelona star Dani Alves has opened up on his admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo.
The duo enjoyed some memorable battles during Ronaldo’s time at Real Madrid as Alves played key part of La Blaugrana’s dominance from 2008 to 2012.
However, the rivalry between the two clubs prevented displays of mutual respect, according to Alves, with that tension powering numerous El Clasico clashes.
With Alves now back in his native Brazil, following a controversial summer exit from his second spell at the Camp Nou, he feels freer to talk about his time in Spanish football.
“I love Cristiano. Now we’re no longer at Barca or Madrid, I can speak, as it always seemed like I couldn’t”, Alves told a podcast interview, as covered by Marca.
“Cristiano exemplifies, for all of us who don’t have that much quality, that with hard work, you can compete against the best.
“I respect him a lot and I had the opportunity to tell him.
“There was a time, because of the rivalry, I went to greet him, and he ignored me.
“There was a controversy that never came out, but in the Ballon d’Or dressing room we had a ‘scuffle’. I greeted 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’m closer to Cristiano than Messi, because of work, not because of talent. Leo is a born talent, at a level only he can achieve.”
Alves also confirmed he is confident of securing a place in Tite’s World Cup squad in Qatar despite missing out on a call up for this month’s friendly games.
The 39-year-old is on the verge of overtaking former Los Blancos full back Roberto Carlos, as Brazil second most capped player of all time, with 124 compared to 125, but he is unlikely to catch Cafu (142) before he retires.