Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo can still compete at high level despite age, FOX Sports' Stu Holden says

The eyes of the soccer world will be glued on Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as they both take the global stage for the Copa América and UEFA Euro tournaments, respectively, this summer.

Messi will compete for Argentina, two years removed from his first World Cup title. Ronaldo will take the pitch for Portugal, hoping to win the tournament once more.

This year, both players come into their tournaments seemingly in the twilight of their careers. Messi, 36, has been dominating Major League Soccer with Inter Miami. Ronaldo, 39, is the top goalscorer in the Saudi Pro League with Al Nassr.


Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus F.C., left, avoids Lionel Messi of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League Group G stage match at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, on Dec. 8, 2020. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

FOX Sports soccer broadcaster Stu Holden said he’s not willing to believe two of the greatest soccer players in the world are finished with their careers just yet.

“I don’t want to bet against these guys. One of the great abilities in the game these days is an ability to stay healthy and perform at a high level,” Holden told Fox News Digital in a recent interview. “And I’m continually amazed. I know I’m a guy who lost my career early through injuries, but the elite of the elite, it’s their ability to perform under pressure and deliver continually on the field, but they’re on the field.”

“These guys rarely have had major injuries. If you look at Ronaldo, he’s probably got the body of a 21-year-old still in his physique. And yet, Messi has been able to evolve and change his game and adapt to his current physical restraints, which he still has that intense speed and acceleration and finishing ability.”

Holden said he would go as far as to bet both Ronaldo and Messi will be playing for their respective clubs when the World Cup comes to the United States in 2026.

“If we can ride this Messi vs. Ronaldo, in the comparison that has probably driven them internally as well in their motivation to keep pushing, and as long as they have that drive, there’s no reason these guys can’t still be playing at a high level for many years to come.”

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi of Argentina is shown during a game between Ecuador and Argentina at Soldier Field in Chicago on June 9, 2024. (Michael Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images)


Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal is shown during warm-ups for the International Friendly match against Croatia in Lisbon, Portugal. (Henrique Casinhas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images/File)

FOX Soccer broadcaster Alexi Lalas said Ronaldo and Messi competing in the Euro and Copa América, respectively, is another reason why those tournaments matter.

“There was a time not too long ago before Messi was a champion of the world where it did not go well in terms of the final product, and he retired,” Lalas said. “I’m just fascinated this summer, as it relates to 2026, what he looks like with Argentina now in the first time since the World Cup and, more importantly, how much has changed relative to how we look at him. Not that he’s great, but in the context of America and his new backyard and his neighborhood and [what] he’s doing with Inter Miami, as opposed to Cristiano Ronaldo over there in Saudi Arabia, and for a lot of people, it’s kind of out of [sight], out of mind.

“Even though they’re competing in tournaments, and they’re happening at the same time, there will [still] be the inevitable compare and contrast with what’s going on and the fates of both of these teams relative to these two incredible players.”

Copa América and UEFA Euro 2024 will both be presented on FOX Sports from June 14 to July 14, as part of a “Summer of Soccer.” 

FOX Sports will be the home of UEFA Euro for the first time and will expand coverage of Copa América in the United States.


Watch all the coverage on Fox Sports. (Fox Sports)


FOX Sports will present 78 matches over 30 days. UEFA Euro matches, held in Germany, will start at 9 a.m. ET, noon ET and 3 p.m. ET, and Copa matches are held in the afternoon and evening in the U.S.

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