Burnley's Michael Keane used to aspire to be like Rio Ferdinand -- now the former England and Manchester United captain is his mentor.
The Clarets centre-back was reminded of his adulation for Ferdinand by the man himself on Instagram last week when he uploaded an image of a young Keane wearing the England shirt from the 2006 World Cup with his name and number on the back.
Pictured in front of a "High School Musical" float, the embarrassment for Keane might have been assuaged by Ferdinand replying to one fan's comment with "embrace the musical mate....inspired a boy to become a top PL centre half!!!''
A post shared by Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) on
"To be fair I think my brother sent it to him,'' Keane said of his twin Will, a striker with Hull. "I like a bit of stick! He was one of my idols growing up. Every kid's done that.''
Not many get to meet those figures, even fewer get to count them as advisors later in life.
However, Ferdinand has proved to be a key figure in Keane's maturation into one of the Premier League's finest young centre-backs.
The two were together at Manchester United and though Keane's path took him to Burnley while Ferdinand retired, the latter has continued to offer guidance to the 24-year-old.
Keane's form should see him once again included in the England squad next week and a first cap, possibly in the No. 5 shirt Ferdinand wore, could arrive this month.
"I've known him since I was young and coming through at Man United he sort of stuck around and helped me out,'' Keane explained.
"I'm able to text him or call him when I want, and before big games he'll send me a text and give me a little bit of advice that will just stick in my head.
"He's been brilliant with me and I'm thankful for that -- he's a legend and a great player, and someone I can learn a lot from.
"It was surreal at first, but it's something that you get used to.
"I've been around him quite a while now and I feel comfortable asking him questions and talking to him. At first I was a bit in awe of him. You get used to it.''