The truth needs time to be revealed, and while Lionel Messi is usually regarded as the more humble, quieter and nicer in the battle of superstars he has with Cristiano Ronaldo, proof of the opposite being the truth keeps coming out in small doses, the latest being some things a retired La Liga referee, Eduardo Iturralde González, said about the two.
González, who retired after March 2012, in a match he couldn’t even finish due to a muscle injury, refereed three Clasico matches, the latest of them being in November 2010, the famous Manita match, as Barcelona beat Real Madrid 5-0 on Jose Mourinho’s first encounter with Spain’s greatest rivalry.
He tells two seperate tales about Messi and Ronaldo during an interview with Marca. Gonzalez was known to be a bit of a joker, who liked to mess with players during matches, possibly to relieve some of the tension. Here’s what he tells of his “Messi” moment:
One day Messi scored a golazo after dribbling 200 players and when he walked towards the naval he stayed looking at me so I told him, “Eh, don’t get cocky because those I’ve scored before and plenty of them.” He looked at me as if he were saying, “this guy is stupid.”
So, is this proof Messi doesn’t have a sense of humor? Nope, but bits and pieces do help make for a more complete picture, like the way both he and Ronaldo handled pitch invaders on their visits to Granada.
And about Ronaldo? Gonzalez is a bit more fond of his comical clash with the Portuguese superstar.
I asked Xabi Alonso if I could mess around with Cristiano and he told me sure. Before the beginning of the second half of a game we were waiting to come on to the pitch and I approached him and said, “Hey Cristiano, you are a big mouth. You talk too much.” He froze and said, “But I never speak against the refs ever! I’ve said nothing.” To which I responded, “No. It isn’t about that. The other day you had an interview on Marca and said you were the number one in ping pong. I want you to know that the number one is me.”
He looked at me up and down and said, “I am the number one on the pitch and in ping pong,” and left running and laughing. The next game, as we warmed up, from afar he started making ping pong gestures at me.
Isolated incidents don’t necessarily mean anything, but they do show us that public and media perceptions, sometimes, can’t be any further from the truth.