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Cristiano Ronaldo says he’s the world’s best soccer player of the last 20 years

Ronaldo says he, not Messi, is the best soccer player from the last two decades. (JuanJo Martín/EFE)

Cristiano Ronaldo, who is preparing for the Euro 2016 tournament with his Portugal squad, told Italian magazine Undici that of all of the outstanding soccer players in the world, he is in fact the best of the last 20 years.

“Where would I rate myself amongst the top players of the last twenty years?” Ronaldo asked. “Thinking positively, then I believe with what I’ve achieved, I’m the best of the lot.”

It’s not surprising that Ronaldo has such a high opinion of himself. For a long time, the conversation for “best in the world” has centered entirely on two players: Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

“I’ve worked hard to get to the highest level and I’ll continue doing it to stay where I am,” Ronaldo said. “I maintain the same attitude and dedication in every single training session and in every match.”

This isn’t the first time the 31-year-old has expressed his belief in his place in soccer’s annals: “I don’t doubt that I will go down in footballing history,” Ronaldo said in May. “Whether people like it or not, the numbers speak for themselves.”

The 2015-2016 season saw Portugal’s all-time leading scorer become the first player to score at least 30 goals in six consecutive La Liga seasons.

He also led Real Madrid to the club’s record 11th Champions League title last month and has scored 526 career goals, per Soccerway.com. That’s three more career goals than Lionel Messi’s 513. Messi, 28, pulled off a hat trick Friday night coming off the bench in Argentina’s 5-0 victory over Panama in Copa America group play.

For comparison’s sake, Messi and Ronaldo are the only players to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or since 2008. The award, given to the world’s best soccer player, has been dolled out to Messi five times and Ronaldo has won three. While Ronaldo has been one of the world’s top soccer players most of his career, Messi’s comparable stats at three years younger seem to indicate whose star power resonates most right now.

Just don’t tell that to Ronaldo.

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