Michael Jordan for basketball, Pele for football and Michael Schumacher for Formula 1. This is a non-exhaustive list of the legends of their sport. And when they meet younger sportsmen who idolise them, it makes for a nice anecdote, like the one from Daniel Ricciardo about Michael Schumacher.
Since 29 December 2013, Michael Schumacher has not made a single public appearance. This was due to a terrible skiing accident, which left him bedridden in hospital for many months.
The only news came from his family. But during his career, he confronted a young up-and-comer, Daniel Ricciardo. And the Australian has great memories of this encounter, in the twilight of Schumacher’s career.
“I was very intimidated at the time…”
Daniel Ricciardo recalls an anecdote from the 2012 Grand Prix in Japan, when he was driving for Toro Rosso, and Schumacher for Mercedes:
“I was defending on Schumacher during the last part of the race and I got the point for tenth place. I was still very intimidated at the time. On a personal level, it was huge.
“At the next race, during the drivers’ parade, he came to congratulate me and said: ‘Good job last week, you defended well’. For me to get a confirmation from someone like him, at my age and at this stage of my career, was something huge. Maybe he didn’t realise it at the time, but it boosted my confidence.”
“For me he was God”
But Schumacher went beyond the stage of a legend for Daniel Ricciardo:
“For me he was God. When he caught me, I would never have bet on the fact that I would hold him back for the next ten laps! The fact that I felt such a level of comfort defending surprised me, I was surprised myself by my performance in the race.”