Major League Soccer star Aurelien Collin has told SFR Sport he holds former Orlando City teammate Kaka in the highest esteem.
Collin, 30, played alongside the Ballon d'Or winner with the Florida franchise in 2015 before switching to New York Red Bulls last year.
Being up against the former AC Milan and Real Madrid star on the training pitch and with him in the dressing room gave Collin first-hand experience of the Brazilian's qualities on and off the pitch.
L'immense admiration d'Aurélien Collin pour son ancien coéquipier Kaka #LeVestiaire @ACMilanFRA @realfrance_fr @ampC2 @KAKA @OrlandoCityFR pic.twitter.com/iHAXaecwlE
- SFR Sport (@SFR_Sport) January 11, 2017
"Great respect, a great guy. He's the best player I've ever trained with. Not at all for his talent, but for his simplicity, the basics of football: control, touch, the way in which he orients his first touch, it's extraordinary. A lot of respect. The MLS is tough, but he carries the squad," Collin told SFR Sports' Le Vestiaire.
"He's charismatic. Just from his smile, you want to give him a hug. The influence he has on the squad is huge. He doesn't talk a lot, but when he does, everyone listens."
Having struggled to establish himself in his native country at Sedan, Collin played at Mallorca in Spain, at a host of British clubs, including Gretna and Wrexham, and with Vitoria Setubal in Portugal, before finding his niche in MLS.
He moved to Orlando following a successful three-year spell at Sporting Kansas City, where he won the MLS Cup in 2013. Also a first-team regular with the Red Bulls, Collin reiterated his international ambitions.
He does not seek to play with France, the country of his birth, but rather Venezuela, the country of his wife.
Insolite ! Le Aurélien Collin est sélectionnable avec le Vénézuela #LeVestiaire @FVF_Oficial @EmbaFrancia @LucarneOpposee @ampC2 pic.twitter.com/6ZDWnbp0n0
- SFR Sport (@SFR_Sport) January 12, 2017
"I'm eligible for selection, but the coach isn't ready for the moment," Collin, who has never represented France at any level, said. "Venezuela is my second country. I have made clear my desire to play, my arms are open, the coach is watching, he knows."
Kaka signed a three-year contract with the Lions when they joined MLS before the 2015 season.
Kaka clear leader at Orlando City - New York Red Bulls' Aurelien Collin