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There has been an outpouring of love and support for Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) following Thursday's announcement that he will be hanging up his leathers at the end of the season. The Doctor's global reach has never been more apparent as sporting icons from every corner of the globe took to social media to share their memories and best wishes to the nine-time World Champion.
Fresh from stealing headlines around the world after taking over from Usain Bolt as the fastest man in the world, Italy's 100m and now 4x100m Olympic Champion Marcell Jacobs took to Instagram to praise his compatriot. "You are and always be number one. Thank you, Valentino," said the sprinter, finding time to message the 42-year-old before he claimed a stunning second gold medal at the Tokyo Games in the 4x100m relay final on Friday. Another of Italy's Olympic heroes, high jump gold medalist Gianmarco Tamberi, also shared a photo of the pair together in 2014.
Rossi is well-known for his love of football and Inter Milan in particular, with the Nerazzurri sharing a photo on Instagram of a bleach-blonde Italian stood next to football great Ronaldo. Italian legend and 2006 World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero, meanwhile, put his footballing differences to one side to praise Rossi: "Dear Vale, it's not easy for a Juventus fan to cheer for an Inter fan.... but it was easy for you! Congratulations indeed! Great, fantastic, unique in many ways. It was a pleasure to watch you race. Now another great race begins, good luck."
Sticking with football and yet another World Cup-winning Italian: Marco Materazzi. One of The Doctor's most remembered celebrations came at the 2006 German Grand Prix when he donned an Italy jersey with 'Materazzi 23' on it just a week after the Italian was embroiled in the infamous World Cup final incident with Zinadine Zidane. A former Inter player, and long-time friend of the Tavulia native, Materazzi said: "For me, you will always be on the top step of the podium. Thank you for everything, idol."
The F1 world reacted as if Rossi was one of their own, with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali kicking off the avalanche of messages: "Valentino Rossi has given so much to motorsport and to fans globally he is a true hero. It will be very strange not to see him on the bike next season but what he has achieved is incredible and part of history forever. Best of luck for the future my friend."
While Daniel Ricciardo posted on Instagram: "Where does one begin? The joy, happiness, excitement you brought to so many TV’s and race tracks around the world may never ever be matched or at least not in my lifetime. I wish you the happiest of retirements but we all know that doesn’t mean a life without 2 wheels. Long may your passion continue. I’ll be waiting at your ranch when the seasons over. On behalf of pretty much the whole world, Grazie! You’re a f*****g legend mate."
Further messages were seen on social media from George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alex Albon and, fresh from a podium finish in Hungary, Scuderia's Carlos Sainz. "Thanks for everything you've done for the motorsport world," said the Spaniard on Instagram. "Legend. Enjoy your next chapter."
I have idolised @ValeYellow46 ever since I was a kid. My kart was #46 and covered in Rossi stickers. He’s continued to be one of my biggest inspirations and I will forever admire what he has achieved in motorsport. Congratulations on an incredible career ???? pic.twitter.com/ZDmp8iGP9D— Alex Albon (@alex_albon) August 5, 2021
F1 teams including Mercedes and McLaren shared touching tributes to VR46, whilst Ferrari, who nearly signed Rossi back in 2007, said: "Ciao Valentino, it’s been wonderful watching you perform on race tracks around the world for all these years and it was also fantastic to share days like this together. Thanks for all the great moments you have given us and best of luck for whatever you do next!"
Ciao @ValeYellow46, it’s been wonderful watching you perform on race tracks around the world for all these years and it was also fantastic to share days like this together. Thanks for all the great moments you have given us and best of luck for whatever you do next! #GrazieVale pic.twitter.com/HEI53ZYwRv— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) August 5, 2021
Legends from across the two-wheeled universe reached out too, with a fellow nine-time champion, motocross legend Tony Cairoli, thanking the 42-year-old for "making him dream". Meanwhile, five-time Supercross champion, Ricky Carmichael, said: "Congrats on an incredible career Valentino. You have been a hero and inspiration to so many people. To watch your career and all your accomplishments was something special to see, and memories that will last a lifetime! Enjoy the next stage of your life, you’ve earned it!"
Finally, some of the most touching messages came from the men that have battled Rossi harder than most. MotoGP™ Legends Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner have gone toe-to-toe with The Doctor on countless occasions, even stealing some World Championships titles away from him, but the duo shared some heartfelt messages in honour of the nine-time World Champion.
You’ve been without a doubt one of my greatest rivals, my achievements have been all the more validated having raced against you. We’ve had some tough battles over the years, and I learnt a lot from you. I hope you enjoy the next chapter of your life, there is a lot left to enjoy pic.twitter.com/PevKWIBl6x— Casey Stoner AM (@Official_CS27) August 6, 2021