Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez has revealed his admiration for the professionalism of El Classico rivals Real Madrid's superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Xavi played against Ronaldo on numerous occassions in his Barcelona career between 2009 and 2015, before he left the Catalans for Qatari club Al Sadd SC.
He admitted that, despite being a long-time rival, he has always been in awe of Ronaldo's work ethic and drive to be the best.
"I have the utmost respect for him because of how professional he is," he told the Record. "He's always been among the candidates for the Ballon d'Or and won the award several times.
"This shows how much of a competitive animal he is. He's a truly competitive beast and still looking to achieve success for him and his team. He's a reference for any professional footballer."
He also praised fromer Real coach Jose Mourinho for his will to win, but admitted he did not see eye-to-eye with the way Mourinho approaches football.
"[Jose Mourinho] always wanted to win at any cost and this shows his nature. I respect this philosophy, but winning at any cost implies that you can't stay true to a playing style," Xavi added.
"For me, the ends don't always justify the means. I respect him a lot and he's achieved great things, but I don't see football in the same way that Mourinho does," he concluded.