London (AFP) – Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo has hit back at a “disrespectful” claim that his only remaining ambition is to win the Ballon d’Or more times than Lionel Messi.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Messi won the prestigious award for a seventh time on Monday.
Ronaldo, who finished sixth in this year’s voting, has earned the Ballon d’Or five times.
The Ballon d’Or, given to the best male and female footballers of the year, is voted on by 180 journalists and presented by France Football.
Pascal Ferre, the editor in chief of France Football, was quoted in the New York Times recently saying Ronaldo told him his primary motivation was to retire having won the accolade more often than his old rival Messi.
Ronaldo, 36, took to Instagram to deny that suggestion.
“Today’s outcome explains Pascal Ferre’s statements last week, when he said that I confided in him that my only ambition was to finish my career with more Ballon d’Ors than Lionel Messi,” Ronaldo wrote.
“Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for.
“It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or.
“The biggest ambition of my career is to win national and international titles for the clubs I represent and for the national team in my country.
“The biggest ambition of my career is to be a good example for all those who are or want to be professional footballers.
“The biggest ambition of my career is to leave my name written in golden letters in the history of world football.”
Ronaldo, who did not attend Monday’s prize-giving event in Paris, last won the Ballon d’Or in 2017.
This year marked the first time the former Juventus and Real Madrid striker finished outside the top five voting since 2010.
Messi’s seventh success extended his lead in the male category after he set the record with his sixth in 2019.
Barcelona and Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas won the 2021 women’s Ballon d’Or.