He also credited his "haters" with pushing him on to achieve greatness.
The Real Madrid superstar is the strong favourite to win the 2016 Ballon d'Or—the nominees were announced earlier this week—having won the UEFA Champions League with Los Blancos and Euro 2016 with Portugal.
If Ronaldo wins the gong for a fourth time, he will succeed Messi as the holder and extend the duo's stranglehold on the prestigious award to nine consecutive years.
When asked which opponent he most admired, the 31-year-old acknowledged the Argentinian and said he has great respect for his longtime rival, per Coach magazine's Diego Jokas: "There is a big mutual respect between myself and Lionel Messi. The media like to make out like we have this big rivalry, but we don’t. It is not like we are good friends, but there is a mutual respect on both sides."
Consistently pitted against each other in discussions about who is the world's best, Ronaldo and Messi have deservedly monopolised the Ballon d'Or for the best part of the last decade.
No other player has matched their consistency, both in terms of creative and goalscoring output and respective importance to their club and national sides.
Ronaldo acknowledged that he has needed both positive and negative motivation to propel him to the top of the game and singled out those who doubt his ability as a key inspiration, per Jokas: "[It is important] to use negative people and experiences to motivate you. I actually need my haters—they have helped me achieve all I have achieved."
The clamour of Ronaldo's detractors has risen since the start of the 2016-17 season, as the former Manchester United star has endured an uncharacteristic drought in front of goal, particularly at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, per Spanish football writer Dermot Corrigan:
A Bleacher Report panel recently discussed the idea that Ronaldo is no longer the main man at Real:
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Even with Ronaldo's poor form, Zinedine Zidane's side are still top of La Liga.
But Real will still be eager that he gets back to his best again, as they will need him if they are to claim silverware in 2016-17.