Rio Ferdinand claims Arsenal legend has 'beef' with Cristiano Ronaldo over slap

Ferdinand suggested the former Arsenal forward downplays the talents of Ronaldo (Image: Getty)

Ex-England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has claimed that Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has an issue with Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players are viewed as legends of the modern era, but Ferdinand suggested Henry may not be such an admirer of the Portuguese forward.

“The way I see Thierry talk about Cristiano, it’s more what he doesn’t say,” Ferdinand said on his VIBE with FIVE podcast. “He doesn’t talk about him with any zest or spark. It’s like he’s downplaying Cristiano a lot.”

Ferdinand then referred to an incident between the pair at Highbury in 2005, when Henry appeared to make contact with the Portuguese international’s head with the palm of his hand in a 4-2 home defeat.

He added: “There was a clip at Highbury when Henry slaps him on the back of his head or something like that and Cristiano pushes him off.

“Cristiano then scored the winner and Henry’s taking the kick-off with the goalscorer in the background. There seems like there’s a little bit of a subplot story that maybe makes it with Thierry and it’s probably still in his mind in moments like that.”

Henry won the Golden Boot a record four times during his time with Arsenal (Image: Getty)

Although Ferdinand believes some tension may exist between the two football icons, they were photographed embracing one another at a game between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur during Ronaldo’s second spell with the Red Devils.

There is clearly mutual respect between the pair, who managed to win five Premier League titles and five Golden Boots between them during their respective times in England.

However, Henry’s comments on CBS Sports indicate he may be a bigger fan of the Brazilian Ronaldo. When speaking about whether he had ever asked for another player’s shirt, the Frenchman said: “I did, Ronaldo, R9. The real one.

“Growing up, how many Ronaldos did you know when you were growing up? In the game, people would say he’s the real one. Ronaldo is R9, Cristiano is Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Ferdinand even suggested that the legendary Brazil striker holds a grudge against his Portuguese namesake: “There’s beef there somewhere, you know. I think because of the name, as if he says, ‘You took my name, so I have a problem with you.'”

Ronaldo has been in a rich vein of form this season, having clocked up 23 goals and nine assists in 22 matches so far. Despite being 39 years of age, his goalscoring talents are still required for his national side, which he has now represented a remarkable 205 times.

Having been included in Portugal’s squad for their friendly games against Sweden and Slovenia, the prolific forward will likely be present at this summer’s Euros tournament.