Lionel Messi has been hailed as the greatest ever footballer by his Barcelona teammate Marc-André ter Stegen after the Argentine’s match-winning performance against rivals Real Madrid Sunday.
After taking a blow to the face which left him bloodied and shaken in the first half, Messi scored Barca’s equalizer before netting the 500th goal of his club career — a last-minute winner in the 3-2 victory over Real.
“I think he’s the greatest ever, because there’s nobody similar to him,” German international goalkeeper Ter Stegen told CNN Sport’s Alex Thomas.
“He loves to play football, he loves to see other people around him playing well. I think he’s the best ever because of the talent and the amazing performances he’s showing every week.”
There’s a never ending debate as to who is the greatest ever footballer — and legends such as Argentine Diego Maradona and Brazilian Pele as well as Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo all have their advocates.
Messi missed out on winning last year’s Ballon d’Or to Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo having previously won the award five times.
With Barcelona, Messi has won La Liga eight times and has four Champions League titles and his goals in Sunday’s El Clasico helped lift the Catalan club above Los Blancos to the top of the Spanish league.
Ter Stegen’s 12-save triumph
Ter Stegen, who signed for Barcelona from German side Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2014, made 12 saves against Madrid — the highest tally by a Barca keeper in at least a decade.
A powerful stop against Luka Modric’s fizzing left-footed shot, a strong glove to deny Toni Kroos, and an incredible reaction save keeping out Karim Benzema were amongst the German’s heroic highlights.
But ter Stegen, who has won nine caps for his country, downplayed his own performance, instead praising the character shown by his team.