‘Lionel Messi is my idol and Cristiano Ronaldo is a monster’: Neymar
‘Lionel Messi is my idol and Cristiano Ronaldo is a monster’: Neymar praises duo as he sits down with Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry… who lauds long-time NBA rival LeBron James
- Neymar and Steph Curry have both lavished praise on their sporting rivals
- The Brazilian labelled former Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi his ‘idol’
- Curry believes his rivalry with LeBron James has helped him reach the top
Neymar and Stephen Curry are two superstar sportsmen at the top of their game but the duo have found time to praise their rivals during a unique interview.
Brazil star Neymar has been highly successful at Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, winning three league titles and a Champions League during his stints in Spain and France.
Curry, on the other hand, has led Golden State Warriors to three championship titles and has been described as one of the sharpest shooters to grace the NBA.
However, both players have said their respect for their rivals have propelled them to the top of football and basketball respectively.
Neymar, speaking to Curry via The Players’ Tribune, said: ‘Facing Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – and I played with Messi, who is, for me, one of the greatest footballers of all time, and he is my idol in football
‘With Messi, I learned every day, whether during our practice, or playing with him, or just watching him play. And that made me stronger and it increased my capacity on the field because I kept learning a lot from him.
‘As for Cristiano Ronaldo, he is a monster. Facing him is a pleasure and an honour, but we have to be more prepared. He is one of the greatest in football so you get smarter, you get alert, but at the same time you learn a lot, too.
‘So, they are two of the big guys that I can relate to, because I want to learn, I want more, I want to win, I want more trophies, score more goals … so I keep learning from them every day.’
NEYMAR AND CURRY’S HONOURS
Brazil Cup: 2010
Copa Libertadores: 2011
La Liga: 2014–15, 2015–16
Copa del Rey: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17
Spanish Super Cup: 2013
UEFA Champions League: 2014–15
FIFA Club World Cup: 2015
Ligue 1: 2017–18
French Cup: 2017–18
League Cup: 2017–18
French Super Cup: 2018
3× NBA champion (2015, 2017, 2018)
2× NBA Most Valuable Player (2015, 2016)
5× NBA All-Star (2014–2018)
Curry has come up against what was LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers during the last four NBA Finals with the Warriors winning three and their rivals taking the other one.
James has now left Cleveland to join the Los Angeles Lakers and Curry has said he has improved due to his battles with the 33-year-old.
Curry told Neymar: ‘When you play against greatness and you play against people that push you… and you chase them, you almost get consumed by it. Because you know how hard it is, obviously, to reach the top, and the amount of work that you put into it.
‘You always try to find a little bit of edge, whether it’s something mental or something physical, that you can use to your advantage to kind of stay on their heels until you get there.
‘And for me, I was actually watching my first game I played against LeBron, my rookie year, and thinking like — from that moment to 2015 when we played them in the NBA championship, or in the NBA Finals, that first time like — I just wanted to be great, because I saw greatness ahead of me. And when you play against him, you get exposed, you learn, you keep growing, you fail, you keep growing.
‘And eventually, for me, we get to the top. And that journey… looking back, I think when I’m done with my whole career, and I look back at like that seven-year window to get to my first championship, I’ll appreciate that entire journey because it is that hard to do what we do at the highest level every single night. And you just appreciate that journey, for sure.’