Virat Kohli’s unconditional love for the beautiful game (Football) is a well-documented piece of information which cricket fan is aware of. From throwing himself during the practice session ahead of an important match or owing an Indian Super League (ISL) franchise FC Goa – Kohli has more often than not expressed his admiration for football and its star athletes. The incredible buzz around ‘FIFA awards’ has once again reignited the hottest debate in the world of who is a better player – Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? The comparisons are inevitable between these two footballing legends and remain one of the favourite past time of every fanatic.

On Tuesday, Messi edged past his closest rival Ronaldo and Liverpool defender Virgil Van Djik to bag the prestigious “FIFA Player of The Year” award for a record sixth time. Despite applauding Messi’s incredible genius and talent, Team India skipper picked up Ronaldo as his personal favourite for his completeness, work ethic and drive which he believes separate him from the rest.

“Tough question. But I would say Cristiano is the most complete player that I have seen. Whether it’s the left foot, right foot, speed or dribbling skills, he’s amazing. I have not seen a better goal scorer. (Ronaldo) The Phenomenon, on the other hand, was something else. He revolutionised the sport and everyone followed him. His place is special, but if I had to take only one in my team who will give energy and intensity, it’s Cristiano,” Kohli was quoted by The Times of India.

However, the 30-year-old Kohli lauded the Argentine (Messi) and called him an ‘absolute freak’ on the field. “It’s a personal preference. Messi is a freak, absolute natural talent, and his ability is second to none. For me, what stands out is the ability or the will to put in the effort in every single minute of the game. Ronaldo’s drive separates him from everyone else. Playing at the top level, everyone has talent, but I don’t think anyone has the will that he has,” he added.

Kohli further stressed on the fact that all sportspersons especially cricketers should take a cue from footballers when it comes to maintaining elite fitness levels in sport. The Delhi-born cricketer is himself revered widely in cricketing circles for his top-notch levels of fitness.

“We always look up to footballers for their discipline. It’s a requirement of the sport that you need to be at your absolute best to be able to take the field. Football players are very particular about professionalism, in terms of physical preparation, nutrition and rest periods. We learn a lot from them,” he added.

Kohli recently led India in the drawn T20I series against South Africa at home. He will next lead India in the three-Test series against South Africa starting October 2 in Visakhapatnam.