IT IS not every day you hear of a professional, top-level footballer getting “starstruck” over talking to a fellow sportsman.

But a meeting between Mohamed Elyounoussi and tennis icon Roger Federer four years ago, both inspired and taught the Norwegian forward so much off the field.

The 27-year-old forward met the Swiss superstar after winning the league title with Basel in 2017 – just 12 months before his arrival at St Mary’s.

Elyounoussi, like a fan on a matchday, asked eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer, known for his class and grace away from the tennis court, for a picture.

The conversation the pair had after, he will never forget.

“To be honest, I didn’t watch much tennis before I went to Basel,” said the Saints star, who is now plying his trade back in the first team at St Mary’s.

“But then when you go to Basel, the main man is Roger Federer. As soon as I landed, there was a big picture of him at the airport – Zurich I think it was. He was the main man there.

“I remember the first time I met him, I was really starstruck. It was when we won the league, he came to hand us the title - the trophy.

“It was my first season, I just broke into the team and was doing well. After we celebrated, he came into the locker room and I talked to him.

“I wanted to go to him and ask for a picture, obviously! So, I went in and was like ‘ah hi Roger’. He was like ‘hi Moi, you did wonderful this season, coming in from Norway. You’ve been absolutely amazing’.

“I was like ‘what?! You know who I am? You are a super legend!’. But I asked him for a picture and he was very kind.

“It just shows, you know? A legend of a sport but how humble and a nice guy he is.

“That’s why people love him, not only because of what he’s shown on the pitch – but the guy he is off it.”

Elyounoussi’s career has taken him across Europe, as well as earning him 35 caps at senior international level for Norway.

Asked how inspiring it was to spend time with 20-time grand slam champion, the Saints ace replied: “It is inspiring in the way he is as a person and the way I would like to be in front of kids when they come up to me and ask for a picture, you know?

“To give them time, not only taking a picture and just being like ‘next one, next one,’. Give time to every kid because they will feel the same way I did when I was talking to him.

“It’s a little bit cliché but it’s true. To give time for fans and to get a picture or whatever. I think that’s important and that can be inspiring for them.

“You never know, maybe they will in the future experience something like that as well. It was a nice moment.”

And while being humble and giving time to people off the field is something Elyounoussi values, he is certainly delivering on the pitch for Saints this season.

He followed up a hat-trick in the Carabao Cup second round thumping of Newport with a goal in a 2-2 draw against Newcastle.

The Moroccan born star kept his place and played 90 minutes in Saturday’s goalless draw with West Ham.

Elyounoussi has spent the past two seasons on loan north of the border on loan at Celtic, before being called back into Ralph Hasenhuttl’s first team plans at St Mary’s this season.

“It’s been really good,” when speaking about his return.

“I have been looking forward to coming back here. All over the summer holiday I had been working hard and I was looking forward to come here, see the boys and everyone working around the club.

“Even though I know last time didn’t work out on the pitch – I still had a good time off the pitch with the people that work in at the club and everyone around that. It’s been good so far.”