Bruno Fernandes has made quite the impact with Manchester United in the few short weeks he has been at Old Trafford and the Portuguese star was bowled over by the impressive nature of the club when he joined.
United paid €55 million plus another €25m in bonuses for the 25-year-old in January, as he signed a five-and-a-half year deal with the Old Trafford side.
“When I went to do the medical tests [at Man Utd] I realised that I was in another dimension,” Fernandes told Cronache di Spogliatoio.
“Inside United’s training centre you can do anything, it’s impressive. You think, ‘This is really one of the most important clubs in the world’.
“And then there is the first step inside Old Trafford, the warm up with nobody in the stands, entering the tunnel before the game, and as soon as you put your foot on the grass you hear an incredible noise.
“I shivered, I dreamed of playing there as a child. If you talk about stadiums, I can tell you the the San Siro and Old Trafford are the most iconic.”
Fernandez started his career with Novara, before his Italian adventure took him to Udinese where he made his name in Serie A.
“I lived in Italy for five years,” Fernandes stated. “One year in Novara, three years in Udine, and then one season with Sampdoria.
“I arrived [in Italy] when I was very young, I met many people with whom I am still in contact. When I was at Novara there was a 12-year-old boy who was like younger brother to me, and he also stayed with me at home in Portugal two weeks. These are beautiful things that will always be part of you.”
“Novara were scouting another boy from Boavista. A scout (his current agent) came to see him, but after 20 minutes he left the stands as he had seen enough, he chose me and not him.
“An English club offered me a contract, but Novara behaved admirably and kept me aware of everything.
“They came to see me training and my games. The directors Borghetti and Giarretta watched me for two weeks. It was an important investment for the club, and they decided to sign me.”
“At Udinese the technical coaches helped me,” Fernandes went on. They gave me the opportunity to do personalised technical training.
“I was lucky enough to work with Di Natale who, in terms of finishing, was the best I’ve seen along with Quagliarella.
“They managed and still manage to score very difficult goals. The day I signed for Udinese, Di Natale bagged an incredible goal against Chievo. It helped me a lot, even studying the opposing goalkeeper.”
“The first year [with Udinese] we were a strong team, but for different reasons we were unable to make a mark.
“The following summer Guidolin left at the end of a long cycle and did not go as well as the team was tailored to his ideas and an important relationship had been created.
“Even with me he managed to bring out the best [in me], and made me understand that I had to train better and more often.
“When Koné and Thereau arrived with Stramaccioni and I lost space in the squad.”
After a spell at Sampdoria, Fernandes eventually found his way back to Portugal with Sporting CP, eventually becoming club captain.
“Sporting are a great club where opportunities to score are larger,” he stated. “In Portugal the difference between the big and small teams is more greater.
“They gave me more freedom close to the penalty area and to create numerical superiority on the wings. I scored 16 goals and 20 assists, I gained a different type of trust.
“Then it’s quite normal for you to score 32 goals, because you understand that you can take more risks and you have more competitive mentality.
“If you get to play at a high level it means that you have the right qualities. If you take risks, you know that that risk can lead to something.
“Being an attacking midfielder is not a simple role. If I look at Serie A, I’d say Dybala is an attacking midfielder because he takes a lot of risks and does it well.
“I already liked Ilicic a lot when he was at Palermo, but in the last three years he is improving his statistics and playing with greater confidence. We can see that among the players the atmosphere at Atalanta is also positive.
“Look at Papu Gomez. He doesn’t score a lot, but when I watch Atalanta’s goals one of the last passes is always connected to his movement. For example, De Roon gives Atalanta something different because he gives confidence to those in front of him.
“You know that if you lose the ball you have him to protect you. They are a complete team and they are doing well because of this.”
After started his career in Italy, another Portuguese star is winding his down in Serie A, and Fernandes has revealed the encouraging words he received from Cristiano Ronaldo.
“From the beginning he [Cristiano] treated me very well in the national team,” Fernandes said. “As a young player I looked at him as an idol.
“It was very important on the first day in retreat. He came to me, saying, ‘You are doing well at Sporting. Play your right cards there. Keep it up’.
“It was a dream for me, he had come to me, not vice versa. Those words make a difference, even just the fact that he. When we look at the strongest players we respect them, but that gesture left a mark.”