STEPHEN IRELAND has emerged as a shock childhood hero of Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes.
From the likes of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard in the Premier League to the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in Spain, idols for aspiring teenagers were not in short supply during the late 2000s.
But United’s £55million January buy from Sporting Lisbon appears to have ventured away from the pin-up superstars worshipped by the masses.
In fact, it was a midfielder for the Red Devils’ bitter rivals and neighbours Man City that he used love.
Former Republic of Ireland international Ireland, aged 33 and currently without a club, claims the Portuguese attacker had a poster of him and used to sign him on Football Manager.
The two men now live just three doors apart on the same road and have become good pals since Fernandes arrived in England.
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