‘Ronaldo the most complete player in the world’

Danish goalkeeping legend Peter Schmeichel rates Ronaldo higher than Messi. (Yahoo! Singapore photo)Danish goalkeeping legend Peter Schmeichel rates Ronaldo higher than Messi. (Yahoo! Singapore photo)

REPORTING FROM WARSAW, POLAND

Goalkeeping legend Peter Schmeichel has re-ignited the debate surrounding  the best player on the planet by calling Cristiano Ronaldo the "most complete player" in the world.

Rating the Portugese superstar even higher than Lionel Messi,  the former Man United great said, "Ronaldo can lift any team no matter what. On his own, he is a force -- big, strong and technical. He can do everything. He has no limitations, he can head the ball and he can even defend if you want him to."

Schmeichel, Carlberg's Euro 2012 global ambassador, said that in contrast, the way Barcelona's mercurial playmaker Messi plays has "limitations".

"Messi's skill levels are so high that he needs players around him who understand his play, how good he really is and what he can do. In the Barcelona team, everyone understands that," said Schmeichel.

Schmeichel's argument could go some way to explaining why Messi, the current reigning three-time World Player of the Year, has struggled to reproduce his scintillating club form while playing for Argentina.

The raging debate surrounding Messi and Ronaldo's status in world football is not new.

While Ronaldo finished a distant second in votes for the 2011 FIFA World Player of the Player award, this season he led Real Madrid to the La Liga title, breaking Barcelona's three-year stranglehold on the title. Along the way, he plundered 60 goals in all competitions.

Schmeichel said any doubts he had about Ronaldo before Euro 2012 had vanished, praising  the Portuguese skipper for "stepping up" during these championships.

Although Portugal eventually bowed out on penalties -- some say unluckily --  against defending champions Spain in the semis on penalties on Wednesday, Schmeichel said apart from the first group game against Germany, Ronaldo "had not disappointed" and by sheer force of will, had dragged his team along with him.

"I cannot remember any game where he did not deliver. For me, he is the best player in the world," said Schmeichel, who also called Portugal "the most improved team" in the championships.

Ronaldo's stats certainly prove his point with the Portugal skipper leading the table with the most number of shots on target at the Euro at 15, scoring three goals.

Schmeichel, who dismissed any sort of bias because of his Manchester United connection with Ronaldo, also said the media tended to make a meal of Ronaldo's on-pitch theatrics and larger-than-life personality.

"The media plays a lot of it. Messi appears to be a really nice boy but we don't know and he could be the complete opposite."