'Ronaldinho came straight up to me and I was in shock': Grammy Award-winning artist Burna Boy reveals favourite football memories
Grammy Award winner Burna Boy is one of the most recognisable music artists in the world right now, but even he admits to getting star struck when randomly bumping into Ronaldinho outside of a nightclub in America.
Speaking to FourFourTwo about his experiences as a football fan and co-headlining the upcoming 2023 UEFA Champions League Final Kick Off Show by Pepsi, Burna Boy also delves deeper into his love of one former professional.
Taking the Nigerian rapper back to his earliest memory as a football fan growing up in the city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria's fifth most populous city, Burna Boy reminisces about his dad taking him to his first game.
"The first game I attended was in Port Harcourt. My father took me, I must have been about nine or eight-years-old, to Liberation Stadium [now Yakubu Gowon Stadium] and Sharks were playing."
Sharks are a former Nigerian football club that played in the Nigerian Premier League, but, in 2016, the club officially merged with city rivals Dolphins to become collectively known as Rivers United. Born in 1991, the game Burna Boy speaks of would have been at the end of the millennium.
During the conversation, though, Burna Boy remembered a slightly earlier memory he had of watching a football match live.
"No, no, no - I'm lying! That was the second one, the first one was actually an international game that was played in Port Harcourt at the Liberation Stadium again, and it was Brazil versus Honduras.
"I can't remember how old I was, but I was definitely younger than when I watched my first Sharks game."
Indeed, on April 8, 1999, Brazil and Honduras faced each other in the FIFA World Youth Championship - now commonly known as the U20 World Cup. Brazil won 3-0, courtesy of two goals from Edu, who went onto play for teams such as Celta Vigo and Real Betis in Spain.
Also playing for the young Selecao side that day was Ronaldinho. The future Ballon d'Or winner had only just broken into the Gremio side at that time and was relatively unknown. Burna Boy admits he doesn't remember watching him play, but recalls a time he randomly bumped into him 20 years later.
"I met Ronaldinho in Miami, he ran up on me outside a club I was supposed to be performing at. I couldn't believe it was really Ronaldinho.
"I was with [MMA fighter] Kamaru Usman and Paul Pogba at the time, and Ronaldinho came straight up to me and I was in shock. That's a great memory."
Set to perform the Champions League Final Kick Off Show by Pepsi in Istanbul at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium just before the players take to the pitch, the Grammy Award-winning artist is relishing the opportunity just to be a part of the spectacle.
"I mean it's great - I'd be even more excited if I was a player. But this is great, it's the next best thing and I can't wait.
"For me, my real excitement is actually being on a football pitch. Wow, where a game is supposed to be happening, it's not like it's just my show at a stadium and everyone's coming to see me. That's great and everything, but when it's a real championship game and I'm on the pitch - even thinking about it is crazy.
"As a huge football fan myself, I know it doesn’t get any bigger than the Champions League. That's why I'm so excited to be performing on the Pepsi Max stage at this year's final. Music and football are the ultimate combination, so you already know I'll be bringing the vibes and making magic in Istanbul."
Unfortunately for Burna Boy, Manchester United - the team he supports - won't be at the final in Istanbul, so he won't be performing prior to his club walking out. That doesn't seem to be too much of an issue, though.
In fact, it seems he cares more about bringing one undoubted player from the club's history back. When asked which Manchester United player he would love to slot back into the side and perform at the peak of their powers once again, Burna Boy is certain it can only be one man.
"Wayne Rooney. Straight up."
Why? "Because it's Wayne Rooney!"
Can't argue with that.
Burna Boy will co-headline the UEFA Champions League final Kick Off Show by Pepsi on June 10, with more artists soon to be announced.