MENTION the name Ronaldo to Gabriel Jesus and his face lights up.
His mother, Vera Lucia Diniz de Jesus, and God are the most important influences in the Manchester City youngster’s life.
But the Brazilian World Cup-winning legend is pretty much next in line.
Keep up to date with all the latest news, gossip, rumours and done deals in SunSport’s live transfer blog
Ronaldo was his hero when Jesus was growing up and more recently has become a friend.
Several of the advisors who worked with the former Inter Milan star, 40, are also on side with Jesus.
They believe the 20-year-old striker has everything needed to become a global phenomenon — just like his countryman. It is early days but he is going the right way about it.
Jesus was tired when we met — after another hectic 24 hours in what has been a whirlwind year.
The previous night he had played, and scored again, in a comfortable 3-1 win over West Brom.
A warmdown with his team-mates the next day was followed by a host of commercial activities.
Photo-shoots for City’s new kits and then a Wickes advert, which will only be shown in Israel. This interview, to promote a new range of T- shirts for City in the Community, could have been too much.
But talk to him about Ronaldo and that infectious smile is there again. Jesus said: “I have two idols in my life — God and my mum. But the player I look up to is Ronaldo, The Phenomenon.
“He is a player I always looked up to and now, knowing him, I look up to him even more.”
Don’t sell Sergio
GABRIEL JESUS wants Sergio Aguero to stay with him at Manchester City next season.
The Brazilian star’s arrival placed a huge question mark over his strike partner’s future.
Aguero will hold talks with Pep Guardiola at the end of the campaign. But Jesus said: “Sergio is a very important player and essential to the club. Since the first time he arrived until now, he’s been a real star — the starting forward of the team.
“He has helped this club a lot and has had an amazing career here, so all the fans and all of us want him to stay at Manchester City.”
Jesus, 20, is convinced they can be great together and praying the Argentine will stick around.
He revealed Aguero, 28, gave him a warm welcome and added: “Since I met him, I realised he is a really nice guy. We are all aware about his skills as a player.
“I’m very happy to see he is a good person, humble, charismatic, that’s very important for me as well.
“He became an idol because of his success here at Manchester City — he totally deserves it.”
Boss Guardiola found a system where he could get both into his team for the win over West Brom this week — when both caught the eye.
And Jesus believes they can work as a partnership, although he knows they will not both play every week.
He said: “It doesn’t depend on us, it’s up to Pep Guardiola. There will be games where it will be suitable and others when it won’t. We must be there ready when the manager decides.”
Ronaldo was a World Cup winner in 1994 and 2002 and beaten finalist in 1998 as he scored 62 goals in 98 games for Brazil and wowed fans at Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
Jesus admitted: “Sometimes people make comparisons between us but it’s difficult to compare someone with Ronaldo.
“Ronaldo is unique, so is Neymar and Ronaldinho, I’m unique as well, young players that will come are going to be unique.
“It’s even more difficult being compared with Ronaldo and how amazing he was.
“I look up to him a lot and I’m always going to look up to him.”
Jesus has made a splash on the pitch at City, with six goals in just seven starts since his £28.6million January move from Palmeiras.
And the youngster, who had to cope with a broken toe, is making an impression off it, too.
One staff member, who spent time with him on a recent trip to New York, said: “He’s a great lad to be around, always dancing, singing and smiling.”
His followers on social media will know exactly what he means. Jesus seems to have embraced life in Manchester to the full.
Yet it could so easily have been different if another legend from his own country had his way.
Last summer at the Rio Olympics, Neymar went on a charm offensive to try to lure the youngster to Barcelona instead.
He said: “It was a difficult moment when I had to choose a club. Neymar knows how it is to be a young player from Brazil and European clubs want to grab you.
“He spoke to me about how FC Barcelona was, about the city, how the weather’s similar to Brazil.
“I hesitated a little bit, because FC Barcelona is a great club, too.
Tatt is close to my heart
GABRIEL JESUS looks destined to become a world superstar — but will NEVER forget the place where it all began for him.
As exclusively revealed by SunSport in February, the Manchester City forward has a tattoo of Jardim Peri — the favela where he was raised and first kicked a ball — on his forearm.
In the past, he has claimed he would love to bring the whole of his neighbourhood over to Manchester with him as it is so close to his heart. And the 20-year-old Jesus said: “My tattoo is the place where I was born and raised.
“I grew up there, I learnt lots of things there and I made my first steps to make my dream of becoming a football player come true.
“Jardim Peri will be always marked in my life and I’m always going to bring it with me.
“It will not only be on a tattoo on my body — but also in my heart.”
“But I realised I could go to a great club as well with more chances to play. That made the difference.
“Also the fact that Manchester City was really interested in me, Pep Guardiola’s call and the conversation we had.
“Everyone knows Pep Guardiola is a great professional but getting to know him, I have realised he is an even better person.
“He is a great guy, sincere, honest and that really attracted my attention.”
Turning down Barcelona is a huge call for any young player.
If there was a positive to the broken metatarsal he suffered after just three weeks of first-team football, it was that Jesus could settle in Manchester.
His mum, brother and two best friends from home in Sao Paolo are living in the flat they found together — and in the summer they will look for a house.
Jesus said: “It’s a way of life that is very different from Brazil. The weather is very different, I wasn’t used to a place that cold.
“The language is different as well but I’m going to learn it. I take my life here calmly.
Name is gift for Gab
GABRIEL JESUS admits it is an honour to share a name with the son of God.
The Manchester City striker chose the No 33 to have on the back of his shirt because it represents the age Jesus Christ was when he died.
Brazilian ace Jesus, 20, said: “I have a lot of faith in God. Without him, I wouldn’t be anything.
“I’m very honoured to bring that name and also to have the faith I have.”
“I came here knowing it wasn’t going to be easy. I put in my head it was going to be difficult. But the support of the people and the club is making a big difference.”
His growing army of fans know Jesus is happy from what they see on Instagram and Twitter on a regular basis.
He said: “I realised it was very important to show the fans that I’m a normal person.
“I like to be a normal person and I do the same things I like doing since I was a child… singing, dancing, having fun.
“I’m a normal person and I like living this way — and always with a smile in my face.”
Particularly when he talks about Ronaldo.
THIS season City in the Community celebrate their 30-year anniversary and have teamed up with Made from Manchester to develop a new range of T-shirt designs to raise funds for the foundation. The new campaign launches this summer. For more information visit www.madefrommanchester.com