All of us have our soccer idols – the captains, the cult-heroes, the GOATS, the goalscorers, the never-say-die defenders, the names we select for the again of our shirts.
And we’re not alone, the professionals had them, too.
We’ve all heard about Eden Hazard’s want to be coached by Zinedine Zidane, Dennis Bergkamp controversially idolising Tottenham nice Glenn Hoddle and Sergio Aguero ‘eager to be Micheal Owen’ when he was younger.
There’s even good tales about Xavi’s love for Southampton icon Matt Le Tissier and his ‘outrageous, sickening targets’, and Dimitar Berbatov sleeping in Alan Shearer’s Newcastle shirt.
READ: Footballers and their childhood idols, together with Messi, Beckham and Ibrahimovic
All of soccer’s nice gamers have been impressed by a previous technology of stars, whether or not it’s Maradona, Pele, Finest and Cruyff, and these gamers, in flip, go on to develop into idols themselves.
However, what about this newest crop of soccer wonderkids?
Whose posters did Kylian Mbappe have plastered throughout his bed room wall, who did scoring sensation Erling Haaland faux to be in his backyard, and whose desires have come true by truly taking part in alongside the boys they idolised after they grew up?
Right here, talkSPORT.com seems on the sport’s prime younger gamers, aged 23 or beneath, and their childhood heroes…
Mason Greenwood: Rooney, Ronaldo, Van Persie
“Wayne Rooney and the Brazilian Ronaldo have at all times stood out for me, I’ve at all times seemed as much as them,” the Manchester United starlet informed reporters in November.
“Rooney is such an ideal goalscorer, that’s what I need to be. He’s completed most issues on a soccer pitch and you need to have a job mannequin.
On Ronaldo, he added: “Ronaldo was fairly some time in the past—however my dad used to point out me clips of him. He used to play for all these nice groups.”
Fairly some time in the past? These youngsters make you’re feeling outdated, don’t they?
Greenwood’s model of play and notably his ending has seen the teenager in comparison with Robin van Persie throughout his breakout season, which has seen him internet 13 targets for United.
On the comparisons to RVP, Greenwood added: “I like taking individuals on, doing expertise. Clearly individuals suppose that I’m much like Van Persie, so I need to be like him someday.”
Trent Alexander-Arnold: Gerrard, Lahm, Alves
The born-and-raised Liverpool lad could also be one of many world’s finest right-backs, however he truly began his younger profession as a central midfielder.
It’s solely pure, then, that he seemed as much as Stevie G when he was coming by the Reds’ ranks.
“My idol was at all times Steven Gerrard after I was rising up, as a result of he’s such a legend and a hero at Liverpool,” he informed Soccer AM.
“He had the authority all people revered, he had numerous respect within the dressing room, and he knew that. He’d at all times take the younger ones and be actually caring with them and assist them alongside the best way. It’s at all times good to have his backing and assist.”
However when he began to drop again into extra defensive positions, he began to base his sport on two of soccer’s trendy greats.
“After I was a bit older taking a look at right-backs, I’d take a look at the likes of Philipp Lahm and Dani Alves.
“They have been the world’s finest and so they have been the 2 that I needed to be on the identical stage as.”
Erling Haaland: Ibrahimovic, Solskjaer, Michu
It’s apparent the Norwegian would have grown up idolising two of Scandinavia’s best soccer exports.
However his third childhood idol was a little bit of a curveball, although it reveals he actually had good style.
“I had numerous function fashions and I’ve seen many good gamers, however Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the most important one for me,” the Norwegian ace mentioned on Pink Bull Salzburg’s web site, earlier than his transfer to Borussia Dortmund.
“How he turned so good, the [path] he took, the best way he performs. Additionally, he’s Scandinavian, so somebody has to take over from him.
“Ole additionally had a really large impression on my life,” Haaland mentioned. “He taught me so much. He was an ideal footballer, he gained the Champions League, so he was an enormous participant. He is among the the reason why I’m right here at this time. He is an efficient particular person and coach.”
Haaland has additionally indicated he was an enormous fan of Spanish ahead Michu with various social media posts about his electrifying spell at Swansea.
This started an trade between the pair, which resulted in Michu sending the teenage star a signed shirt as an indication of respect.
And the previous Swans striker was touched by the shout-out from one of many sport’s greatest rising stars.
“It’s an honour. I believe he [Haaland] goes to be a world-class participant,” Michu mentioned. “He’s a significantly better participant than me!
“At Swansea I had one actually good season… however the best way he’s exploded into European soccer, I don’t keep in mind something like that – possibly [Kylian] Mbappe. He’s breaking each file and he’s solely 19 years outdated. He has an ideal future.”
Kylian Mbappe: Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo
Contemplating all of those gamers are aged 23 or beneath, let’s face it, numerous them are going to have had CR7 posters on their wall as youngsters.
However for Mbappe, that’s completely true – his bed room was plastered with Ronaldo’s picture in each nook and cranny.
However the Portuguese ace wasn’t the one star he seemed as much as…
“Nicely, I’ve had phases,” mentioned the World Cup winner.
“To start out, as a baby, it was [Zinedine] Zidane. In the event you’re a boy and also you’re French, your idol is Zidane.
“After that, it was Cristiano [Ronaldo] and I’ve been fortunate sufficient to face him. Then it was the Brazilian Ronaldo for the best way he performed.
“I need to depart that kind of a mark with my values, to go away a message within the historical past of soccer.”
Nicely, he’s undoubtedly on his method.
Jadon Sancho: Ronaldinho, Drogba, Lampard
Born in London, the Borussia Dortmund star grew up a Chelsea fan whose Gods have been, like many, Drogba and Lampard.
The England worldwide has actually confirmed his eye for a purpose and imaginative and prescient for a cross, however he has one other string to his bow – an attacking directness that was impressed by his third boyhood hero, Ronaldinho.
“Ronaldinho was the primary man I used to observe on YouTube,” he added in one other interview.
“That was an enormous factor for me. I simply preferred how he used to hold his group and used to attempt issues nobody else would attempt. I preferred him so much.
“I’m a bit difficult, direct, assured clearly. I imagine in myself in one-versus-one conditions.
“However I preferred Frank Lampard quite a bit and Didier Drogba after they have been taking part in for Chelsea. They have been the three gamers I seemed as much as.”
Frenkie de Jong: Lionel Messi
The younger Dutchman mentioned leaving Ajax for Barcelona was a dream come true, not solely as a result of he modelled his model of play on nationwide hero Johan Cruyff’s Barca group, but in addition to get the prospect to play alongside his boyhood idol…
“I’m very joyful to be right here lastly,” De Jong mentioned after his Nou Camp arrival.
“As a baby it was a dream for me to play at Barca, and now I’m right here so it’s nice. I’m actually trying ahead to setting foot on the Camp Nou pitch for the primary time.
“I’m joyful to have the ability to play with Messi, who I’ve at all times adopted. Now my idol might be my teammate.
“I like Barca’s method of taking part in, the philosophy of Barca and Ajax are very related, and I believe I’ll take pleasure in it.
“Barca and Holland have at all times had an ideal, particular connection, and I hope to observe in that custom. I need to be one of many nice Dutch gamers who’ve performed at FC Barcelona.”
Matthijs de Ligt: Ramos, Pique and Italian legends
The 2018 Golden Ball winner appears to have various star gamers who’ve influenced his profession.
Whereas he has hailed observe Dutchman and worldwide teammate Virgil van Dijk as among the best centre-backs on this planet, 2018 Golden Boy winner De Ligt has named two Spanish legends as his principal soccer idols, with one particularly standing out as his no.1.
“I at all times look as much as gamers who’re my idols, and I can identify three defenders who’re excellent,” mentioned the younger Netherlands worldwide.
“Gerard Pique is an excellent defender as properly, and naturally my compatriot Virgil van Dijk, however Sergio Ramos is my greatest idol.”
Chatting with Ajax TV whereas nonetheless on the Amsterdam membership, the centre-back made clear his admiration for Italian soccer lengthy earlier than making his transfer to Juventus.
“I’ve been fascinated by the Italian method of defending from an early age,” mentioned De Ligt.
“A lot of my idols from the previous are additionally Italians. Resembling Maldini, Franco Baresi, Nesta, Cannavaro and Gaetano Scirea.
“While you discuss defenders, then you definately quickly discuss these names. I truly fell in love with the Italian method of defending and I made a alternative primarily based on that.”
Phil Foden: David Silva
Again in 2017, then aged 17, the younger midfielder mentioned he was residing the dream by being chosen for Manchester Metropolis’s pre-season tour of america.
Not simply because it was his first shot at first-team soccer, but in addition as a result of he lastly bought the prospect to coach along with his boyhood hero – David Silva.
“It’s my first time away with the group and I’m having fun with it, studying so much,” mentioned the England teenager.
“Coaching is quicker and it has been nice taking part in with Silva, he’s my idol actually. I try to watch what he does and be taught from him and try to do the identical issues.
“Hopefully I can break into the primary group this season and get extra sport time.”
He’s nonetheless ready for that common place in Pep Guardiola’s squad, but when he retains working onerous he’s certain to get his probability – and he’s already proven he has the expertise to chop the mustard.
Gabriel Martinelli: Ronaldo
For a younger Brazilian participant, there’s a humiliation of legendary gamers to idolise.
However for a younger striker rising by the ranks, and hailing from the identical area of Brazil, there was no different alternative – it needed to be, and was solely ever going to be the unique and finest Ronaldo.
“I’d at all times dream of being Ronaldo – I cherished him,” Martinelli informed the Arsenal web site shortly after his arrival from Ituano.
“His nickname says all of it: The Phenomenon. He was my greatest idol after I was rising up, properly, him and my dad. My dad at all times informed me he was a tremendous footballer, too.
“However after I noticed him taking part in, I wasn’t too certain about that! That’s OK, although, as a result of he’s nonetheless my inspiration anyway.”
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Thierry Henry
This may increasingly come as a shock to some Manchester United followers, however – though he was from London – his idols weren’t Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney or Ryan Giggs.
Rising up in Croydon, his household have been all large Arsenal supporters and there was one participant the younger Wan Bissaka dreamed of emulating – Thierry Henry.
After becoming a member of the academy of Crystal Palace, he even tried to emulate his Gunners hero on the pitch by taking part in additional ahead, earlier than the Eagles wanted a brand new right-back and moved him.
That didn’t cease him from dreaming of placing the ball behind the web, although.
“Rising up I seemed as much as Thierry Henry,” he informed Joe.co.uk.
“I similar to targets, I preferred the best way he scored targets. I at all times pictured myself scoring targets after I was youthful.
“I educated there [at right-back] a couple of occasions as a result of Palace wanted gamers in that place, that’s after they observed how good I’m at tackling and defending.”
Joao Felix: Kaka
The most recent recipient of the Golden Boy award. As a promising younger ahead fro Portugal, certainly it’s apparent who he grew up idolising?
Flawed – his favorite ever participant is definitely Brazilian ace Kaka.
The similarities between them are clear, not solely of their seems, however of their attacking taking part in model on the pitch.
Felix has spoken of watching video after video of Kaka on YouTube all through his youth, and he even bought to me his hero within the flesh final 12 months!
At simply 20 years outdated, the younger Portuguese is among the highest-valued gamers on this planet and after a promising begin to his profession in Spain with Atletico Madrid, he’s properly on his technique to following in his idol’s footsteps.
A future Ballon d’Or, maybe?
The 20-year-old has additionally named Portugal legend Rui Costa amongst his different inspirations whereas rising up.
Vinicius Junior: Neymar and Ronaldinho
The Actual Madrid starlet has mentioned he seems as much as Brazilian heroes Neymar and Ronaldinho and even tries to mimic his ‘best idols’ on the pitch – which is actually simpler mentioned than completed.
He apparently has a serving to hand, although – Neymar truly sends him movies of expertise to try to excellent on the coaching area!
How’s that for encouragement.
“Neymar is my idol and I attempt to imitate many issues that he does on the pitch,” he mentioned in an interview with Fox Information.
“He at all times sends me movies of his performs and he says: ‘do the identical, teenager’. He does issues like no one else on the pitch.”
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Ídolo! Sem palavras… @neymarjr
Speaking about Ronaldinho, Vinicius mentioned: “He’s one other participant that I like and I watch his movies to be taught. Neymar and Ronaldinho are two of my best idols.”
Vinicius has even urged Neymar to place his Barcelona ties to 1 facet and be part of him on the Bernabeu… if it’s the desire of God.
In an interview with The Guardian, he mentioned: “If God needs, Neymar and I’ll play collectively at Actual Madrid.
“I’d undoubtedly be in favour of him shifting to Madrid as a result of it might be my large dream to play in the identical facet as Neymar. He’s my idol in soccer. If had an opportunity to play with him, I’d really feel very joyful.”
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O maior e melhor que eu vi. Obrigado pelas mágicas dentro de campo, e por tudo que fez pelo nosso futebol. Feliz aniversário, paz, saúde e VIDA LONGA ao bruxooooo! Não me canso de ver seus vídeos no YouTube. Obrigado pelo carinho de sempre. Deus te abençoe, ídolo! SOU SEU FÃ @ronaldinho
Kai Havertz: Mesut Ozil
The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder has been hailed because the ‘subsequent Michael Ballack’ all through his rise within the Bundesliga, and has even been linked to observe the Germany legend to the Premier League, with Liverpool amongst his suitors.
However there’s one other Die Mannschaft star he truly bases his sport on.
“It’s secure to say that I copied so much from Mesut Ozil,” Havertz informed Sport1.
“I similar to how he performs. He has completed so much for German soccer. That’s why you possibly can say that he has been a little bit of a job mannequin for me.”
He even caught up for his boyhood hero in direction of the tip of Ozil’s worldwide profession, which noticed him stop the Germany group after their disastrous World Cup in Russia.
“To doubt his footballing qualities is meaningless to me,” mentioned the teenager.
“He has at all times been a participant whom I really like to observe and whose path I observe. Mesut Ozil is a very nice participant, who has completed so much for the nationwide group and in addition his golf equipment.”
Havertz additionally spoke about a number of the gamers he cherished rising up. Furthermore, the Germany worldwide revealed about his favorite participant among the many golden Spanish technology.
“There are numerous gamers that impressed me like Kaka, Zidane, Ronaldinho. They’ve at all times been my idols,” he mentioned.
“Between the Spanish gamers, my favorite is Andres Iniesta. He’s excellent on the ball. Distinctive. I like him essentially the most.”
Luka Jovic: Radamel Falcao
Given the Serbian ace is a menace with both foot and can also be a beast within the air, the very fact he seemed as much as Colombian nice Falcao isn’t any nice shock.
Whereas his alternatives have been restricted since becoming a member of Actual Madrid final summer season, Jovic’s unbelievable scoring file at Eintracht Frankfurt confirmed there’s loads extra to return from the 22-year-old.
His type in that 2018/19 season, which noticed him bag 27 targets and 7 assists in 48 video games, led to comparisons with El Tigre and his predatory instincts within the field.
And talking about his boyhood heroes, he has mentioned: “I believe all people watches Ronaldo and Messi, however my idol is Falcao.
“I like Radamel Falcao essentially the most. Enjoying with the left, proper, head. Each probability he takes, he’s implausible.
“I believe we play equally. I hope to attain as a lot as he has someday. I’d like to be a minimum of like him.”
Sandro Tonali: Gennaro Gattuso
It’s no shock Manchester United have been linked with an curiosity within the 19-year-old midfielder, who has been tipped because the ‘subsequent Andrea Pirlo’.
Like Tonali, the World Cup-winning legend additionally started his profession at Brescia, however the teenager has performed down the fixed comparisons with the fashionable playmaker.
As a substitute, he believes he’s extra like Pirlo’s finest mate, midfield enforcer Gennaro Gattuso.
“Being in comparison with Pirlo doesn’t trouble me, however I believe we’re very totally different as a result of he had indescribable approach and high quality,” mentioned Tonali.
“I contemplate myself to be like Gattuso, however extra technical. He’s at all times been my function mannequin.”