France Football’s published an exclusive interview with the former Real Madrid and Barcelona striker as part of Tuesday’s special Ballon d’Or issue – in which he discussed a number of topics, including his first role model, his own position as a player and his thoughts on former Real Madrid team mate and current Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane, who was one of the high-profile omissions from the Ballon d’Or Dream Team.
As a player Zidane led France to World Cup in 1998 (giving a masterclass in the final against Ronaldo and Brazil) and the European Championship in 2000, won two Serie A titles with Juventus, and one LaLiga and one Champions League title with Real Madrid. His honours as a coach are equally impressive, with the Marseille-born legend having lifted two LaLiga and three Champions League titles during his time on the Bernabéu bench.
For this reason, Ronaldo, who identified Zidane as the best player he has played with, said he cannot decide whether the Frenchman was a better player or better coach.
“Zizou has been the best player I have trained and played with. And now he has become a coach and won three Champions Leagues in a row. That is why today I ask myself: ‘Who is better, Zidane the player or Zidane the coach? But I can’t answer”.
The Brazil great also spoke about another legend left out of the Dream Team, Marco van Basten. Asked about who his first big footballing role model was, Ronaldo answered: “Marco Van Basten for sure. From a very young age I watched Italian football and paid special attention to this player.
“Maradona and Cruyff, too. And Zico, of course, because he played for Flamengo and I was a fan of that team. I tried to take something from all of them and ultimately I can say that I am proud of the career I have had.”
Indeed, the 2002 World Cup winner enjoyed a stellar career that led to his nomination as the Ballon d’Or Dream Team’s centre-forward, which he admitted was by far his preferred position as a player.
“Sometimes I played as a second striker, but I always saw myself up top in the centre. It was like that. Maybe I could have played in the ‘10’ position, but I always preferred to be close to the box, where I knew I was the most dangerous. I was so in love with my position as a number 9.”