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By Tom Sanders
The debate over which footballer can lay claim to being the greatest forward of all time is a debate that has been raging for years, and depending on your point of view could be answered in any number of different ways.
So when a player like Lionel Messi, who many consider to be the GOAT himself weighs in on such a hot-button issue, you've got to sit up and pay attention.
In a recent interview, Messi named the former Barcelona and Real Madrid striker Ronaldo Nazario as the best forward he has ever seen in his life.
The Brazilian international, now retired, played over five hundred matches at club level, scoring over three hundred and fifty-two goals. He also won two Ballon d'Ors, was named FIFA World Player of the Year three times and scored twice in the 2002 World Cup Final to win the tournament for Brazil.
As a footballer, he was the complete package.
"Ronaldo [Nazario] was a phenomenon, Of all the strikers I ever saw, he was the best," Messi said in an interview with AS. "He was seriously impressive."
Whilst players such as Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Pele and Diego Maradona are often quick to be suggested in discussions of the all-time greats, sometimes it feels like Ronaldo Nazario doesn't always get the attention and recognition he deserves.
Had it not been for the horrific series of knee injuries picked up during his time at Inter Milan, he could have been in serious contention to be the GOAT, but unfortunately it was not to be.
However, despite his unfortunate injury record, 'El Fenomeno' still has a place in the hearts of many players and fans worldwide as one of the the most talented players in the history of the game.
"RONALDO FUE EL MEJOR DELANTERO QUE VI EN MI VIDA"
✍️ Lionel Messi, sobre Ronaldo Nazário pic.twitter.com/8sOnDFXcsc
- FOX Sports Argentina (@FOXSportsArg) October 27, 2019
And Messi's not the only one that been singing his praises recently either.
In a recent interview, former Manchester United and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho claimed that Nazario was the greatest player he'd ever seen, placing him in a bracket even above Messi and his namesake Cristiano Ronaldo.
Mourinho said: "If we are talking strictly about talent and skill, nobody surpasses Ronaldo [Nazario].
"Injuries killed a career that could have been even more incredible, but the talent that that 19-year-old boy had was something incredible."
So maybe he never achieved the ridiculous level of personal fame and glory that Lionel and Cristiano did, but when it comes to the respect of your peers, there's nobody rated more highly than R9
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