‘Made an era’: Former rival lauds Lionel Messi

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Soccer Football - Ligue 1 - Angers v Paris St Germain - Stade Raymond Kopa, Angers, France - April 21, 2023 Paris St Germains Lionel Messi during the warm-up before the match. — Reuters
Soccer Football – Ligue 1 – Angers v Paris St Germain – Stade Raymond Kopa, Angers, France – April 21, 2023 Paris St Germain’s Lionel Messi during the warm-up before the match. — Reuters

Manchester United and Brazil midfielder Casemiro has recently lauded his former rival Lionel Messi and said it was a “pleasure” to play against the PSG giant.

Terming Messi as one of the top three players of his generation, the five-time UEFA Champions League (UCL) winner, in a recent chat with Placar, said: “I didn’t get to watch Maradona or Pele play, but I enjoyed watching the three greatest players of my generation: Messi, Cristiano and Neymar.”

The Brazilian midfielder remarked: “Messi made an era, and he was always competitive with Barcelona and Argentina; there was no way out. Whoever loves football will love Messi.

“It was a pleasure to play against him. He is someone who needs no comment you can only admire.”

Messi and Casemiro played against each other for the first time in a league match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Camp Nou in 2016.

Los Blancos won the match at a time when the Brazilian emerged as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.

Casemiro — despite his admiration for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner — admitted that he did not watch the 2022 World Cup final as the Argentine led his country to a World Cup triumph.

“No, I didn’t watch it, and frankly, after our loss, I think I didn’t watch football for a month, and I didn’t turn on the TV. It was very painful.

“One of my best friends, Licha, won the tournament. I congratulate him with all respect and appreciation. If there is someone worthy of it from my friends, it is Lisandro,” he added.

It must be noted that Casemiro joined Real Madrid in 2013 as a 21-year-old and made his debut for the Whites in the 2012-13 season against Real Betis on April 20.

He was soon promoted to the first team in the next season, where he played backup midfielder for Xabi Alonso.

Casemiro, in his nine-year-long career with Madrid, won 18 trophies, including five UCL and three La Liga titles.

He then joined Manchester United in 2022 and helped them win their first trophy since 2017.

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