Lionel Messi has been hailed as the winner of the 'statue battle' between himself and Cristiano Ronaldo after a life-size bust of the mercurial Argentine forward was unveiled in a museum alongside Pele and Diego Maradona. Messi, who recently completed his trophy cabinet by winning the World Cup in December, was in attendance and looked emotional as the statue was revealed at the CONMEBOL museum in Paraguay.
The life-size figure of Messi clutching the World Cup sparked an awestruck reaction from the man himself as the curtain was lifted on the statue in front of his Argentina team-mates. Following the ceremony, fans on Twitter were quick to point out that Messi's statue looked a lot better than that of long-time rival Ronaldo, which is on display outside the airport in his home city of Funchal in Madeira.
The Portuguese superstar was honoured with a statue back in 2017, although it was the subject of intense mockery as a result of its depiction of Ronaldo being a far cry from the player's actual likeness. It was eventually replaced after 15 months by a much-improved effort but the original statue has lived long in the memory and was compared to Messi's own figure by a number of observers on social media.
"They really did Ronaldo dirty with his statue compared to Messi's statue," said @footymemes21, while @frenkiedejonk simply declared: "Messi won the statue battle."
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@maleedus added: "Someone said Messi's statue is a better player than Ronaldo," with @sammy_dray joking: "If only Ronaldo had a World Cup, they would have paid more attention to sculpting his statue."
Messi was joined by the entire Argentina squad at the CONMEBOL event, which was dubbed the 'Night of the Stars' by organisers before the statue was unveiled to the world for the very first time. The 35-year-old looked to have been overcome with emotion as he delivered a short speech, in which he said: "I never dreamed or thought about this.
"My dream was to enjoy what I liked when I was little, to be a professional soccer player, to do what I always loved in this life. I had a very long road, many decisions and defeats, but I always looked ahead and wanted to go for a triumph, for a victory.
"I think that the most important thing [is] to fight for your dreams. [To know] that everything is possible and to enjoy the game, which is the most beautiful thing there is."
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