The PSG superstar just won his seventh Ballon d’Or
As a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, it’s fair to say Lionel Messi has had a rather exceptional career to date. He has even been compared to Michael Jordan by his former teammate Ivan Rakitic and by Jordan‘s ex-teammate Toni Kukoc.
The Croatian icons discussed the two superstars’ impacts on their respective sports.
“For us in soccer, what Messi means is Michael Jordan in basketball” Rakitic said during his conversation with Kukoc on the NBA’s YouTube channel.
“With both these two guys, they know that without the team behind they’ll never get all they did in their career.”
Kukoc, who followed football from a young age before heading to the USA to become an NBA player, echoed Rakitic‘s sentiment.
“I do in a way see Messi being Michael and Michael being Messi, but everybody knows soccer and basketball are team sports and you do need all the teammates and all the coaches on the same page in order to achieve these high goals,” the former Chicago Bulls player said.
Rakitic was full of praise Kukoc as a personal hero of his, being Croatia‘s best ever basketball player.
“What Michael and Leo mean to many people you mean it for the Croatian people,” Rakitic said.
“You are our Michael Jordan because I grew up understanding basketball, before taking the ball, just understanding who is Toni Kukoc.”
Rakitic‘s own success alongside Messi at Barcelona surpasses most footballers’ career highlights. The 33-year-old, now at Sevilla, won four league titles at the Camp Nou along with four Copa del Rey successes and a Champions League trophy in 2014/15.
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