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Podolski pays homage to footballing legend and 'childhood hero'

Lukas Podolski Germany

The Arsenal star and World Cup winner posted a picture of a former great he said 'inspired him to become a football player.'

Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski has paid tribute to a player he described as not just his inspiration for playing football and childhood idol, but also the "best player he has ever seen."

The ex Koln striker wished former Brazilian star Ronaldo happy birthday as he turned 38-years-old on Thursday, posting a picture of the two on his Instagram and Twitter accounts, saying:

"38 years ago a star was born, best I have ever seen, my idol and childhood hero, the one who inspired me to become a professional football player. Happy birthday."

Podolski himself is no stranger to starring on the biggest stages, having burst onto the international scene at a young age and going on to register 47 goals in 118 games for Germany.

In his first six years with the national team, Podloski netted an impressive 37 goals, though the last five years have been tougher, with just 10 strikes.

Nevertheless, Podolski is actually joint third on Germany's all time list of goalscorers, alongside legends Jurgen Klinsmann and Rudi Voller, and though he is the only one of the top 10 hit men to still play for the national team, he has some way to go to catch up with Gerd Muller in second place with 68.

Ronaldo was an even greater example of a player that seemed to peak early on, winning the World Cup in 1994 as a 17-year-old, before setting the world alight in spells in the Netherlands, Spain and Italy all before he was 24, then going on to sign and star for Real Madrid during their 'Galactico' push in 2002.

The Brazilian star's career would go on to peter out when it should have been in its prime, after a series of debilitating injuries took a toll on his fitness, and by the time he entered what would be his last season at Real Madrid in 2006, just after what was his final World Cup with Brazil, he had already been stripped of the tools that made him the very best striker in the world.

Spells with AC Milan and Sao Paolo giant Corinthians only really served to emphasise how out of shape Ronaldo was, with the striker suffering weight problems despite managing to find the net regularly in his final few seasons before retiring in 2011.

Podolski has played somewhat of a bit part role in his late 20s since signing for Arsenal two years ago. He has a decent strike rate of 28 goals in 71 matches for the Gunners, but has often found himself struggling to nail down a regular starting berth, with there being doubts over whether his best position being on the left wing or as a centre forward. He has limited minutes so far this season despite the injury to Olivier Giroud.

This summer Podolski's international teammate Miroslav Klose beat Ronaldo's World Cup goalscoring record of 15 tournament goals, but in the 29-year-old's eyes, it is the Brazilian that is the living legend. 

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