Jadon Sancho is fast becoming an inspirational figure in his own right at Borussia Dortmund, but the teenage forward has revealed to DAZN and Goal that he wanted to emulate Barcelona legend Ronaldinho growing up.
Sancho is being hailed as a poster boy for young talent prepared to take risks and chase their dreams down paths others may not take, but he claims it is merely ambition to be the best he can possibly be and a desire to follow in illustrious footsteps that has shaped his career to date.
He told DAZN and Goal: “I can’t really speak for everyone, I can only speak on my situation really. My situation was that I just wanted to play football.
“I’ve always wanted to be a professional footballer, make people watch me and say ‘woah’, like how I used to watch Ronaldinho and go ‘wow, I want to be like him one day’. Hopefully, I could become that level one day and players will look up to me and say wow.”
On the importance of having inspirational heroes, Sancho added: “My role model was Ronaldinho. The reason behind that is how he just beat people with ease and did things that no one else was doing at his time. That’s why it was him.”
As he continues to push himself towards the very top of the game, Sancho is aware that his cause will require assistance from those around him.
He is fortunate to have plenty of world class talent alongside him for club and country, with a former colleague in Manchester and a current team-mate at Dortmund considered the best mentors he has had the pleasure of working with.
“There’s a lot of good players I’ve played with,” said Sancho.
“Raheem Sterling will have to be one. Marco Reus is definitely one. There’s a lot of great players I’ve played with. If I don’t say them, I feel like they’ll be touched!”
Sancho added on the impact two experienced and creative forwards have had on his game: “Him [Reus] and Sterling have had the biggest impact on my life.
“Reus, his case is that he’s helped me mature as a player, he can tell when I’m having my game and I’m not. You can see, when he talked to me after I scored against Frankfurt, he was saying ‘Relax, be yourself, you have nothing to lose, you’re playing well so far.’ Frankfurt was a big game and I was a bit nervous and you could tell I was a bit off it but eventually I got into the game.
“Off the pitch as well, we have a lot of fun together, we talk a lot and chill together. That’s what’s so good about our relationship, on the pitch and off the pitch.”
While a big admirer of domestic and international team-mates, Sancho is also a fan of star turns plying their trade as part of other star-studded sides.
Unsurprisingly, he considers five-time Ballon d’Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to be two of the finest performers on the planet, with talismanic figures at Barcelona and Juventus continuing to raise the bar of individual excellence.
There is plenty of talent sat just below them in the global pecking order, though, with two fearsome frontmen at Paris Saint-Germain among the best in the business.
Asked to name the best players in the world not called Messi or Ronaldo, Sancho said: “Neymar and [Kylian] Mbappe.
“It speaks for itself, their numbers are crazy. Especially Mbappe, he’s doing very well especially how young he is.
“He’s setting the tone for every youngster in the world and every youngster should be looking up to him because he’s one crazy thing at his age. He’s won Young Best Player, the World Cup and he’s still young so there’s lots more he can win if he keeps doing his thing.”