Benfica manager Jorge Jesus has shockingly stated that Lionel Messi has no ‘passion’ for football whilst discussing the greatness of Diego Maradona following his death, he also took aim at Cristiano Ronaldo.
ESPN have reported the comments that Jesus made during his pre-match press conference ahead of tonight’s Portuguese top-flight tie against Maritimo.
Jesus, who is in his second spell as Benfica boss – the 17th of his managerial career, exclaimed that Maradona is the ‘greatest’ player of all-time alongside Brazilian striker Pele.
Jesus believes that Maradona, who sadly passed at the age of 60 last Wednesday, particularly deserves to hold this honour due to the ‘passion’ he had for the game.
The 66-year-old then bizarrely suggested that Barcelona superstar Messi has ‘nothing’ in regards of passion for the beautiful game, whilst Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo only has a ‘little bit’.
Here’s what Jesus had to say regarding Maradona, Messi and Ronaldo:
“In my opinion, Maradona was the greatest player in history, (together) with Pelé. Pelé is still here, he is alive.”
“Maradona was the greatest, not only for what he was as a genius and player, but for the way he showed. That made the difference to me.”
“He was a world top, but he had a passion for the game, he was born to be a football player, he was born with everything.”
“It is not a worked product, he was born that way. Love, all the feeling he had with the ball…”
“Nowadays, between the two best in the world, (Cristiano) Ronaldo has a little bit of that, (Lionel) Messi has nothing. He has nothing … of passion. He is a great player.”
Jesus noticed that his comments would spark uproar and clarified them later, suggesting that the intention was to applaud Maradona’s relationship with the game and not tear down Messi’s apparent lack of passion:
“Be careful not to misinterpret. As for Messi, we are talking about what life and feeling is about, having a passion for the game and football.”
“I think Maradona was even prominent in this regard in relation to other.”
Jesus’ comments, whilst he tried to clear them up later on, are completely disgraceful. The Portuguese boss didn’t need to tear down Messi and Ronaldo to reiterate how special Maradona was.
This is another stark reminder that we – as enthusiasts of football – should refrain from constantly comparing players, because it ultimately leads to comments like this.
As for the accuracy of Jesus’ comments, they’re simply unfounded, if Messi and Ronaldo lacked passion for the sport they wouldn’t still be playing at the respective ages of 33 and 35.