There’s no question that Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of boots.
The 36-year-old Manchester United man has rewritten the history books during his legendary career – and currently holds the records for most appearances made and goals scored in the Champions League.
Ronaldo also boasts the same achievements in the men’s international game for his native Portugal.
The impact of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s legacy, however, cannot simply be measured by statistics – or even trophies won.
A recent thread created by Twitter user @TotalRonnie demonstrates just how many stars of the modern game have gone on record to state that Ronaldo was an inspiration to them in their younger years.
We’ve taken a look at some of the biggest names from a seriously impressive list of talent that have paid tribute to Ronaldo below.
Kylian Mbappe on Cristiano Ronaldo
Paris Saint Germain forward Mbappe posted a photo to social media in 2020 of himself sharing a pitch with Ronaldo while representing France against Portugal.
In captioning the image, he simply wrote the word “idol”, followed by both a crown and a goat emoji. before tagging Ronaldo in the post.
A snap of a 13-year-old Mbappe meeting Ronaldo during his Real Madrid days regularly pops up online, further evidencing the youngster’s long-term admiration for his hero.
Erling Haaland on Cristiano Ronaldo
While Mbappe has had a number of opportunities to interact with Ronaldo, prolific Borussia Dortmund striker revealed back in February 2020 that he hadn’t had the same chance.
“I would love to meet him and tell him that I am a footballer thanks to him. For me, he was always a role model and he’s my idol,” shared the Norwegian hitman.
Harry Kane on Christiano Ronaldo
Like many a Ronaldo opponent, England captain Kane was keen to secure the superstar’s jersey following a Champions League game between Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur in 2017.
“I asked for his shirt. He’s a big role model of mine, watching him when I was growing up. It’s a nice shirt to get and framed. I gave him my shirt. I don’t know what he’ll do with it,” said Kane after the encounter.
Marcus Rashford on Cristiano Ronaldo
A current colleague of Ronaldo at Old Trafford, Rashford lavished praise upon the Portuguese captain after facing him in the Champions League in 2018 – during his time with Juventus.
“People don’t do that at his age,” Rashford told the official Manchester United website of a then 33-year-old Ronaldo.
“People are usually heading towards the end of their career and their level starts going down a little bit, but his has just gone up and up and up. For me, there is no bigger inspiration in football.”
Bukayo Saka on Christiano Ronaldo
Highly-touted Arsenal and England winger Saka wasn’t even a year old when Ronaldo made his professional debut for Sporting Lisbon in 2002, which shows just how remarkable it is that the Portuguese is still playing at the very highest level today.
“Cristiano is my idol,” declared Saka in a 2019 interview with Goal.
“I love his mentality. He always wants to be the best, is always working hard on and off the pitch and trying to make his body the best.
“When he gets on the pitch he performs with full confidence and full personality and shows why he’s one of the best players to ever play football.
“I wouldn’t say I have his attitude as we are two different players, he is unique, but I try to look at him and take the good things from his game and one of the good things from his game is his mentality.
“He’s always focused, always working and I try to do that as well.”
Heung-min Son on Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo has a further admirer in north London in the shape of Tottenham forward Son.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2019, the South Korean international applauded his “idol” Ronaldo for “working harder than the talent he has,” suggesting that it was the same attitude he aspires to bring to his own career.
Mason Mount on Cristiano Ronaldo
Chelsea playmaker Mount weighed in on the eternal debate over whether Ronaldo or fellow superstar Lionel Messi is the greatest player of the modern era during an interview with the UMM YouTube Channel in February 2021 – and the Manchester United man was his pick.
In coming to his decision, Mount stated: “You know what, between Ronaldo and Messi, there’s not much in it. But I’d probably go…Ronaldo, he’s my idol.”
Matthijs de Ligt on Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo’s former Juventus colleague Matthijs De Ligt revealed shortly before moving to Turin in 2019 that he and his childhood friends had all wanted to grow up to be like Cristiano while playing football in the garden as kids.
A short time later, the Dutch defender was lining up alongside his idol in a Juve shirt.
Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho on Cristiano Ronaldo
Fernandes and Sancho are two more of Ronaldo’s current crop of United teammates who have heralded him as a huge influence on them in the past.
Ronaldo’s countryman Fernandes referred to him as having been his boyhood “idol” while conducting an interview in 2020.
Meanwhile, Sancho posted an image of Ronaldo to Twitter back in 2017, labelling him “an inspiration”.
Elsewhere in the thread, similar sentiments from the likes of Jack Grealish, Dušan Vlahović, Vinicius Junior and Gabriel Martinelli (among others) are explored.
The legacy of Ronaldo looks set to live on for many years after he retires.
Can you answer these 12 questions about Cristiano Ronaldo’s first spell at Manchester United?
Denis Zakaria to Man United? (Via The Football Terrace)