When John Legend was named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive earlier this week the singer accepted the honour with good grace, noting on Twitter that he was bemused but that he'd "take it".

With a nod to last year's winner, actor Idris Elba, Legend posted an old image of himself alongside a current photo of Elba and wrote: "1995 John would be very perplexed to be following @IdrisElba as #SexiestManAlive".

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"Hell, he continued, "2019 John is about as equally perplexed but thank you @People for finding me sexy. I'll take it."

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Elba congratulated Legend in a cheeky post that took a light-hearted jibe at another former Sexiest Man Alive.

"Congratulations brother," he wrote on Twitter. "You deserve it. DO NOT TELL @TheRock He still thinks he's got the title, I didn't have the heart to tell him when I took it."

And that might've been it, had Legend's wife Chrissy Teigen not entered the fray by encouraging Elba to share a photo of himself from 24 years ago.

"Let's see an @idriselba pic from 1995," she wrote, adding "(prob still very hot)" as she sent her request out into the Twittersphere.

After leaving everyone hanging for a couple of days, Elba answered the call with a smouldering photo from his past that he captioned "1995-ish" ... and his fans are loving it, judging by the responses rolling in.

Idris Elba tweeted this photo of himself from the 1990s and people are loving it. Photo / Twitter, @idriselba
Idris Elba tweeted this photo of himself from the 1990s and people are loving it. Photo / Twitter, @idriselba

"I wasn't born yet but lemme find a time machine and let's work something out king," wrote one.

While another posted: "He went into his personal stash TO LET YOU KNOW he been fine..."