The Frenchman has also lined up on the opposite side of the pitch to Lionel Messi, but feels the Barcelona star also pales in comparison to Brazil’s legendary striker.
“He was unstoppable,” Silvestre recalled on MUTV Group Chat. “You called him ‘El Fenomeno’ then. I played against Messi and I played with Cristiano at Manchester United, but he [Ronaldo] is something else in terms of speed.”
Silvestre and Ronaldo shared a dressing room at Inter for one season in 1998-99, immediately after the striker’s starring displays at the World Cup in France.
The former defender then transferred to United at the end of that campaign, where he was joined by Cristiano for five seasons from 2003.
Cristiano became a bona fide star at Old Trafford while Silvestre was at the club, before following in Ronaldo’s footsteps in the white of Real Madrid.
But Silvestre is in no two minds about who was the greater player.
“Everything is top level [with Ronaldo],” he added. “Cristiano, maybe you can guess that he has three or four tricks he would use most of the time, but Ronnie, it was always something different.
“He was inventing things on the spot, so you can’t guide him left or right because he’s going to get out of these situations, no matter what.
“He could score from any type of position. He was playing on one leg at some points and was still beating defenders all over Europe.”
Despite Silvestre’s view, it’s hard to argue with Cristiano’s track record.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner flew to the top of Madrid’s all-time scoring charts, netting 451 times in nine seasons compared with Ronaldo’s 104 over five years.
Ronaldo even commented recently on the matter, stating: “For Cristiano, it must be boring to hear that I am the real Ronaldo.
“People cannot be compared. Cristiano will remain in football history for the goals and for the continuity he has achieved. He will remain one of the best, like Messi.”
But Jose Mourinho recently weighed in on the debate too, and was in agreement with Silvestre.
The Tottenham manager worked with both players at different stages of his and their respective careers.
When asked who was the best player he’d seen, Mourinho told LiveScore: “Ronaldo, El Fenomeno.”
Before adding: “Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi have had longer careers, they have remained at the top every day for 15 years.
“However, if we are talking strictly about talent and skill, nobody surpasses Ronaldo [Nazario]. When he was at Barcelona with Bobby Robson, I realised that he was the best player I’d ever seen take to the field.
“Injuries killed a career that could have been even more incredible, but the talent that that 19-year-old boy had was something incredible.”