The debate of the GOAT footballer between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi has been more than a decade long conversation now.
However, a sudden change of opinion on the GOAT footballer title certainly doesn’t sit well among the football fandom. And especially, if your name is Steven Gerrard.
The legendary Liverpool midfielder has taken up on management after his retirement. After working with the Liverpool youth team, Rangers F.C and after an underwhelming period in Aston Villa F.C, Gerrard has decided to try his luck into the Saudi Pro League. In June 2023, Steven Gerrard joined the Saudi side Al-Ettifaq FC as their manager.
Recently, in an interview with Saudi Pro League channels, Gerrard was captured hailing praise for the Saudi Pro League.
He claimed that the Saudi division is on everyone’s lips at the moment. And for this he credited former Man United legend Cristiano Ronaldo as the main reason why he too headed to the Middle East, hailing him as ‘the GOAT’.
“The arrival of ‘The GOAT’ as we call him, Cristiano, him arriving in January obviously was a huge signing. He still had a lot of football to offer.”
“So, from afar, for six months, I was looking in at Cristiano Ronaldo’s results, at the league, watching some games and watching some highlights. I think from that moment, the league around the world had become a very popular talking point for everyone. After Cristiano’s arrival, even more big-name signings, talents and skill sets were joining the league.” claimed Gerrard.
These comments can definitely be flattering for the Ronaldo fan base, however this interview seeded a new controversy all together.
An older interview of Gerrard came to light where the English footballer had a completely different opinion altogether.
Back in April 2022, with Gerrard still being the manager of the Premier League side, Aston Villa, he was seen in an interview video alongside Gary Neville on the Overlap YouTube channel .
When asked on where he stood on the ‘GOAT’ debate, Gerrard had only one thing to say:
“It’s Leo Messi For me”.
“But I’m someone who would never have a derogatory word to say about Ronaldo, because he is phenomenal. They are the two in my era that were just…the numbers – when you’re a footballer and you’ve done it yourself – I’m not sure who’s going to ever do that again.”. He told Neville.
Therefore it is evident that Gerrard did slightly put Messi in front of the race back then.
Another Q&A with Peter Crouch saw Gerrard claim Messi as the GOAT even faster –
-Peter Crouch: "Messi or Ronaldo?"— Max Stéph (@maxstephh) November 20, 2023
-Crouch: "Well that was Quick"
Now this sudden change in Gerrard’s opinion regarding the “GOAT” title after joining the Saudi League infuriated the fan base.
From being tagged as a ‘sellout’ to being described as a ‘two-faced’, he had to hear a lot of abuse.
“The way in which all of these people I used to respect have completely sold their souls for money they don’t need is so very depressing..” Commented a X user.
People even went ahead to question his legacy as a result.
“Honestly, everything this man has done since leaving Liverpool is just like taking a sledgehammer to my childhood”, opined another user.
Honestly, this sudden change can be seen as a point to criticise the Al-Ettifaq manager, but now that Gerrard and Ronaldo have both settled in the Middle East, it isn’t exactly difficult to determine why the Liverpool legend may now be voting for Cristiano Ronaldo.