Jonah Lomu, the All Black winger who died suddenly this week aged 40, never won a Rugby World Cup winner’s medal.
Unimportant. The man, by common consent, is legend – not just in his sport, but in sport.
The tributes forthcoming from the great and good within rugby union bear testament to the fact that this mountainous competitor – 6ft 5in, 18st 7lb in his pomp – had something so special about him that he will forever take his place among other luminaries of the sporting world such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt, Jack Nicklaus and Pele.
Former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies, for instance, commented: “RIP Jonah you were a true legend and a gentleman. You changed the game of rugby and will be sorely missed.”
While Clive Woodward, the coach who guided England to World Cup victory in 2003, described the 20-year-old Lomu’s impact on the 1995 Rugby World Cup as taking rugby “to a whole new level,” adding: "There's very rarely one player who dominates a whole World Cup and he certainly did.”
Bryan Habana, the South African winger who shares the record number of 15 Rugby World Cup tries with Lomu - albeit having played three World Cups rather than the two campaigns the Kiwi enjoyed - echoed these sentiments, commenting: “He’ changed the game in a way that no other player has done before.”
So what was it about Lomu that was so special? Setting aside his extraordinary humility and courage in facing a serious kidney disease which he believed never allowed him to play to more than 80 per cent of his capacity - scary stat! - the best answer to that question is simply to watch recordings of him in action.
Or if you are lucky – as I was at the 1998 Commonwealth Games rugby sevens in Kuala Lumpur – to recall the surge of excitement you felt watching him play.
KL was, if not Lomu’s finest hour, then his most profitable as he played a huge part - really huge - in earning New Zealand the gold medal thanks to a 21-12 win over the reigning World Cup Sevens champions Fiji.
The Fijians, Christians to a man, bore a biblical reference on their shirts – “I can do all things that God has strengthened me to” (Phil. 4:13). But against the power of Lomu they didn’t have a prayer.
The great man - topless, tearful and triumphant, led his team-mates in a second, celebratory haka for supporters ranged on the far side of the stadium.
Just as you can’t mistake what music moves you or not, you don’t have any doubts about your response to special sporting action. It’s simply thrilling.
Alex "Hurricane" Higgins moving manically around the snooker table, face twitching, itching for the white ball to roll to a halt. Ali, leaning back against those saggy ropes in Kinshasa, inviting, entertaining destruction at the hammer fists of George Foreman – then moving back onto the offensive. Bolt, flying free of the Olympic 100m field in Beijing, jamming his fist into his chest as he slows to a world record victory.
Jordan, whose high-flying slam-dunking style redefined basketball, was voted greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by an ESPN survey of journalists, athletes and other sports figures. Jack Nicklaus meanwhile, he of the monster drives, stands supreme in golf’s listings with 18 Major championships - Tiger Woods is still stalled on 14 – but what has persuaded so many observers of his top dog status has been his power and staying power, having taken his last major, the 1986 Masters, at the age of 46.
Pele, a similar blend of power and grace to Lomu, has long been acknowledged as the world’s greatest footballer, albeit that some might now argue the merits of Lionel Messi.
The deeds redefine the event, and its possibilities.
All of these sporting icons have won, at least once, and in some cases, serially, the highest honours in their field. But when it comes to evaluating sporting greats, feelings, as much as statistics, dictate.
Sir Clive was good on the detail of Lomu’s special status: "He was unstoppable. For the first time ever you had this incredibly gifted, large, very fast athlete on the wing.
"Wingers are usually small and nimble. Suddenly you had this huge guy who was big and fast and amazing. He changed rugby."
At full velocity, Lomu was Gulliver in Lilliput - but a Gulliver who could never be netted down by the seemingly tiny adversaries around him.
Of course, these adversaries were not tiny. They were strong, tenacious, powerful – and impotent to prevent his progress. Lomu was not actually the tallest of players, nor the heaviest. But his combination of bulk and speed – he could run the 100 metres in 10.8sec – proved irresistible at the game’s key moments.
Lomu's prominence at the 1995 World Cup helped him become one of the first acknowledged superstars of the sport's professional era which soon followed.
"It was great timing for rugby to enter into the professional era, and Jonah was instrumental after the way he played in that tournament," said former New Zealand team-mate Justin Marshall.
"He was a freak of nature at the time. He was 110kg but could run like the wind.
"Having that on the end of your chain rather than in the forward pack was a revolution of the game."
Wales captain Sam Warburton tweeted: “Jonah Lomu was the first reason I wanted to play rugby. Inspiration and true legend.” In this, Warburton spoke for innumerable other aspiring youngsters.
Lomu's first, crushing try – one of four - against England after just two minutes of the 1995 World Cup semi-final is one of the most telling sequences of his career as he had to backtrack to pick up a misplaced pass before accelerating past despairing tackles from Tony Underwood and Will Carling before reducing full back Mike Catt to a doormat en route for the line.
I watched that stupendous effort in the clubhouse at Bishop’s Stortford Rugby Club, whose former player Ben Clarke was one of England’s most effective operators on that traumatic day. Quite honestly, it ruined the atmosphere.
But if anything, Lomu's effort in scoring the first of his two tries against France in the 1999 World Cup semi-final - which the French nevertheless found a way to win 43-31- was even more astounding as he collected the ball outside the 22 and brushed aside the first two challengers before drawing five more into the conflict, swerving, spinning and wheeling clear of them all to touch down in a blur of ineffectual blue.
These are the moments where a sport is re-shaped to fit the form of a special personality.