It's easy to forget sometimes, but like us mere mortals, all professional footballers had idols in the past, who they worshipped and whose actions they reenacted on muddy fields as starry-eyed children.
For the current generation of stars, the usual suspects of David Beckham, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, and Zinedine Zidane are often cited as inspirations... But perhaps not for hipsters like Bruno Fernandes.
The Portuguese midfielder is a wonderfully-gifted playmaker and given his style of play and footballing heritage, you'd imagine that he still possesses a homemade shrine to the great Luis Figo, or even a later crush on Cristiano Ronaldo.
But on Wednesday afternoon, the truth was uncovered. Fernandes' idol was in fact... Stephen Ireland.
Yep, you've read that right. The Red Devil was once enchanted by a majestic blue. That's what Ireland himself revealed, anyway, sort of.
In an interview with The Athletic, Ireland revealed that his new neighbour Fernandes confessed to having a poster of the former Manchester City man on his wall, while the Irishman was his go-to signing on Football Manager.
“He told me that, as a kid, he had a poster of me,” Ireland explained.
“He said that when he played Football Manager he always signed me. I was like, ‘You had me on a poster? And, seriously, you sign me for Football Manager?’ I mean, how weird is that?”
Very weird, Stephen, very weird. At least he is aware of how utterly bonkers this is, and how difficult it is for us all to process this information.
But in fairness to Ireland, he was one of the most exciting prospects in the Premier League when he broke through the Man City ranks, winning the club's Player of the Year award for the 2008/09 campaign. The playmaker's career was hampered by injury, but he still went on to enjoy decent spells at Aston Villa and Stoke City.
At the age of 33, and now without a club, there is still time for Ireland to recapture that blistering form that set Manchester alight, and convince Fernandes to put up his poster once more, in honour of one of football's forgotten gems.
Source : 90min