Among the surprises awaiting Valentino Rossi before his final MotoGP race at Valencia was a special visit by footballing legend Ronaldo.

The Italian has previously credited Ronaldo as both the reason for his interest in football and support of the Inter Milan club.

But watching the Brazilian also helped Rossi understand how it feels to be "on the other side" as a fan, perhaps raising his awareness of acknowledging and appreciating the huge support he received at the race track each weekend.

“I became an Inter fan because of the arrival of Ronaldo. Before then I didn’t follow football much,” Rossi told Sky Sports over a decade ago. “When I was small I supported Sampdoria… Then Ronaldo came to Inter and this excited me more."

The World Cup winner played for Inter Milan from 1997-2002, when he earned the nickname 'The Phenomenon' from Italian media and became an 'idol' to Rossi, who was then in the relatively early stages of what would be a 26-year grand prix career.

Fast forward to November 14, 2021 and Rossi punched the air with delight and cheered as he spotted Ronaldo waiting in the pits before his last race:

"Ronaldo is my idol," Rossi explained afterwards. "Outside of motorsport, he is the best sportsman for me. He gave me a lot of emotion when I would go to the San Siro [stadium] to watch him, especially when there was the derby against Milan.

"I think Ronaldo gave to me the same feelings that I give to my best fans. So with Ronaldo I understand more about what it's like [to be a fan] on the other side and today was very emotional."