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Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2019 comments contradict furious Lionel Messi Ballon d’Or statement

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A furious Cristiano Ronaldo branded recent comments about Lionel Messi attributed to him by the Ballon d’Or organiser Pascal Ferre as “unacceptable” and “lies” ahead of Monday night’s glitzy ceremony in Paris.

The editor-in-chief of France Football, the magazine which presents the golden ball trophy, alleged the Manchester United striker’s primary goal is to finish his career having won the prestigious award more times than his great adversary.

“Ronaldo has only one ambition, and that is to retire with more Ballons d’Or than Messi, and I know that because he has told me,” Ferre told the New York Times last week.

The 36-year-old has clinched the accolade five times, most recently in 2017, while Paris Saint-Germain forward Messi, 34, had six gongs to his name ahead of Monday night.

Ronaldo shares a famous rivalry with Messi which was at its peak during their times on opposite ends of El Clasico at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

The Portugal captain is renowned for his driven mentality, so it would be no surprise for him to declare his intention to win more Ballons d’Or than his Argentine counterpart.

However, Ronaldo railed against the France Football supremo with an extraordinary statement released on Monday in which he said: “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.”

Although he insists Ferre “lied” about the alleged new comments about Messi, Ronaldo has previously gone on record to outline his intention to win the most Ballons d’Or in history.

Quizzed by Piers Morgan in 2019 on what record he would like to set before he retires, Ronaldo told ITV : “The most golden balls in the history of football.

“I will love it and I think I deserve it. Messi is a fantastic guy and a fantastic player, but I think after I have six, or seven, or eight then I’ll be more above him.”

Ronaldo was speaking at a time when he was tied with Messi on five Ballons d’Or each, but the latter went on to win the 2019 award to pull clear with a record six.

The Barcelona legend is the odds-on favourite to win the accolade once again during a ceremony at the Theatre du Chatalet on Monday night.

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Austine Eguavoen: Super Eagles coach’s pay structure revealed

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Interim coach Austin Eguavoen will be entitled to only win bonuses as the Super Eagles gaffer at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon.

Eguavoen was appointed on a short-term deal after the Nigeria Football Federation sacked Gernot Rohr in December.

Rohr was Nigeria’s longest-serving manager after taking charge in August 2016, but had his contract terminated after leading the Eagles to the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-offs and sealing a spot at the Nations Cup in Cameroon.

The Franco-German also led Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup and guided the team to third-place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

“Eguavoen is on the payroll of the NFF and he won’t be entitled to salary for the role he is playing as an interim coach of the team,” President of the NFF Amaju Pinnick stated recently on Arise TV.

“He will be entitled to the winning bonuses as the team progress at the tournament.”

Eguavoen has already won his opening two group games at the tournament which has sealed their place in the round of 16 in the competition

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Cristiano Ronaldo wins The Best FIFA Special Award

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Cristiano Ronaldo has been honoured by FIFA for becoming the all-time leading goalscorer at the international level.

The Manchester United star has now scored 115 goals for Portugal, breaking Ali Daei’s previous record of 109.

Ronaldo received a special in-person award and was also named in the FIFPRO Men’s World11 for 2021, at what was largely a virtual ceremony for FIFA’s The Best ceremony in Zurich on Monday.

“It’s a dream. First of all, I have to say thank you to my teammates, especially in the national team during the last 20 years that I used to play with. I never thought of beating that record,” Ronaldo said.

“I have to say thank you to my family, my wife, my kids – soon I will be a father again! I’m really proud, it’s a great achievement to be the top scorer of all time.”

Asked how he is maintaining his fine goalscoring form at the age of 36,he insisted that he is as motivated as ever to even score goals and win trophies.

“It’s a passion, I still have a passion for the game, not just to score goals but to entertain myself,” Ronaldo added. “I’ve played football since I was five or six years old so when I get to the pitch even in training I still enjoy it and my motivation’s still good.

“I’m 37 soon, I feel good and motivated. I keep working hard since I was 18 and I continue. I have that passion and want to continue.

“People ask sometimes how many more years I’m going to play and I say I hope to play more than four or five years. It’s all about mentally, because physically if you treat your body good, it’ll treat you back.”

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AFCON: Okocha names most important player in Super Eagles

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Former Nigeria captain, Austin Okocha has singled out Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi, for special praise.

Akpeyi is currently part of the Super Eagles’ squad at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

The 35-year-old who has made 19 international appearances, is behind Francis Uzoho and Maduka Okoye in the pecking order after his recent injury concerns.

However, Okocha believes Akpeyi has an important role to play in the team.

“Daniel is a very important player for the squad. He only lost his place through injury. This shows how strong the whole squad is, because once you miss out because of injury, it’s always difficult to get back for a goalkeeper.

“We believe we have a great squad and we have people like Daniel we can rely on if needed.

“I am happy that we have a happy competition in our goalkeeping department and it is a plus for any coach,” Okocha said in an interview with Amakhosi’s media team.

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