Ander Herrera's strong bond with Manchester United supporters began four years ago today when he joined the club from Athletic Club in Bilbao.
“I used to wear no.8 when I was at my first club in Zaragoza,“ Herrera recalled. ”I spent two seasons in La Liga, in the first division, and then I moved to Athletic Bilbao.
“I had shirt no.21 there. I think 23 and maybe 17 were free. But I took 21, I spent three fantastic seasons at Athletic Bilbao and things went very well for me so I just kept it.”
As for the reasoning behind the use of his full name, Ander said:“In Zaragoza, my hometown, my club that I grew up at, I used to be known as Ander and just Ander.
“So I had Ander on my shirt and when I moved to Bilbao, everyone used to name me more like Ander Herrera because in Bilbao it’s a Basque name. There used to be more people who are called Ander, so to make the people differentiate between me and, for example, a team-mate that I used to have named Ander Iturraspe, I put Ander Herrera. There is not just one specific reason.”
When did you first watch United play? Did you watch the 1999 Champions League final?
I think so. At least it’s my first memory. That was my first memory of United and what a memory. I remember the end of the game was incredible, the way they came back against Bayern Munich to win. Maybe I had watched United before, but my first memory is that match.
Which of your goals for United do you rate as the best?
Every goal for United is important and I’m always very happy to score. But maybe the one that I scored in the FA Cup against Yeovil Town away, three seasons ago, I think .
Who is your favourite musician?
I’m not a big fan of just one musical style, so I couldn't name just one singer. I really like, for example, Juan Luis Guerra, he’s from the Dominican Republic but I’m open to all styles of music. David [De Gea] likes to play the music in the dressing room and sometimes I don’t agree with his choices but you have to respect him!
What’s your favourite thing to do on a free day in Manchester?
I am quite a homely guy. I like to be at home, but I like to know, to meet and to visit new places. One of my passions is food, so I like to know different restaurants and new places to eat. You can send me some advice on places to visit, that would be very helpful!
From my time here, the one from the season when we won three trophies, with the three lines on the sides. I really liked that.
How long did it take for you to get used to the weather in Manchester?
I’m not used to yet! But I cannot complain, I’m playing for a fantastic club. People in Manchester are very, very affectionate, always ready to help you, they are very happy. Even with the sometimes bad weather, they are smiling all the time and they are ready to help you. So, the weather is not a problem for me.
For a young player what is the most important thing to improve on?
I think the understanding of the game. You can have fantastic skills, you can have a fantastic shot and you can be very quick but you have to realise when you have to shoot, when you have to pass, when you have to run or when you have to just stop the ball and let the team breathe. Juan Mata is an example of someone with a great understanding of the game. He is not the quickest, he doesn’t shoot the strongest, but he understands the game. He knows what to do in every moment, when he has to pass, when he has to shoot, or when he has to just keep the ball.
Where's your favourite place to go on holiday?
Ibiza. I think we have the best places in the world in my country, in Spain. And, Ibiza is my favourite.
How do you handle the pressure and scrutiny of modern football?
I just try to give back to all of you all of the affection that you have given me and secondly, I feel very, very proud to be a Manchester United player, to play for the greatest club in the UK. And with the pressure, to be honest I just try to work hard every day, when I am going to play a game, I just try to train that week very hard. I just try to know who I am playing against, I try to respect the opponent and when I do, I just try to take care of myself in terms of food, rest, sleep and when I do all of that, I just feel ready to play and I just feel ready to perform and to give my best. That is the way I cope with the pressure. When you do all these things, when you work hard, when you respect the opponent, and when you do all that is in your hands to perform, you have to be calm and go and play.
The two Spaniards of course - David and Juan - and also Marcos Rojo, because I have a great relationship with him and he is a very funny guy.
Do you play any other sports?
I really like tennis. When I have free time in summer overall, I really like to play tennis. I still have to improve a lot, because I have one friend in Spain that normally beats me every day we play. I always go with all of my expectations, I try to give everything, but I am not the best at tennis. I will try to improve when I leave football. I hope, maybe in 20 or 30 years, I will try to train and to be better at tennis.
This interview was first published on 29 March. You can watch the full Q&A at YouTube.com/ManUtd.