Every word from Cavani's farewell interview
Edinson Cavani leaves Manchester United this summer after a two-year spell at Old Trafford which featured several spectacular goals.
The Uruguayan arrived as one of the European leagues' greatest strikers, world-renowned for his exploits at Napoli in Serie A and Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. In his first season at United, he scored 17 times.
In our farewell interview with Cavani, he reflects on the most significant goals of his time here. Read every word below…
7 NOVEMBER 2020 v EVERTON
To start with, your first goal for the club. The final goal that sealed victory - how do you remember it?
“Yes, I remember it and look back on it fondly because it really was a bit like the beginning of my adventure here at United. And to grab the goal that also put the seal on an away win was pretty important and so I can remember it very clearly.”
29 NOVEMBER 2020 v SOUTHAMPTON
You put down a marker as a sub at Southampton with an assist and two goals. It reminded fans of former great strikers like van Persie, van Nistelrooy, Solskjaer and Cole. Was that a big day for you?
“That game against Southampton was a special one because we were behind and I got the chance to come on and provide an assist and then go on to score twice. Those kind of things don’t tend to happen so regularly in football. They’re quite rare and so you really enjoy them. Because aside from everything else, when they also bring with them a win, that always adds that bit extra to the moment and the experience.”
23 DECEMBER 2020 v EVERTON
Another one against Everton, could this be one of your best goals for us? Tell us about it…
“Yes, in terms of technique, it was a lovely goal. It was a vital one too, because it was still 0-0 at the time, and we were able to open the scoring with that goal. But yes, I think it was one of the nicest goals I’ve managed to score here at United. I can remember a few other nice ones too that were quite special, like the last goal of last season against Fulham, here at home, that was a very good one too. And also against… no, let’s just say that I’ve been lucky enough to score some beautiful goals in my time here at United.”
11 APRIL 2021 v TOTTENHAM
You had a goal disallowed in that game against Tottenham. And then got your revenge with this diving header…
“That’s why I was saying that there have been quite a few lovely goals in my spell in Manchester. This one was really nice, also for the importance of the game and what it meant for us to win. Initially we thought we’d gone ahead in the game, but they disallowed the goal, and a few minutes after that, we conceded with a goal from Son, which put us behind. But then we were able to turn the game around and win quite comfortably in the end. The victory was really down to the very good football we played, our hard work, and the character we showed. So it was a highly enjoyable game. I scored a lovely goal which more than made up for what had happened in the first half, absolutely!”
And it was a typical Cavani goal too…
“I always say that one of the really key features for strikers, I think, is that instinct or sixth sense. You just keep reading the game and the move that is developing. Based on that, you then pick the right moment to get into the box, and mostly for that type of goal, you have to be really intuitive and make your move or your run at just the right moment. And that’s what happened, and it was a beautiful goal.”
29 APRIL 2021 v ROMA
This was a great European night, with two great goals for you. But it needed the fans there for such a big night, didn't it?
“One of the things that has left me with a slightly bitter taste is that when we had a highly enjoyable and pretty decent [2020/21] season, we weren’t able to have the supporters along with us. And now, this season, with the fans coming back into the grounds and stadiums, I haven’t really been able to have the kind of campaign, if I’m being honest, on a personal front that I would really have liked. Where I would have been able to score the kind of goals I did last season, and then be celebrating them a bit more with the fans - the kind of stuff that it’s great for a forward or a striker to be doing.”
18 MAY 2021 v FULHAM
And now, maybe the best goal of your time here…
“Yes, I think so. I touched on that goal a little before. I think it’s the most spectacular goal that I managed to score here at United. But like we were saying just before, there weren’t that many fans there. A reduced amount of them in the stadium really, which is a small figure for the size of Old Trafford. They are moments and things that happen in life. The way things can go in football. And that’s all it is, you just have to look forward to the future.”
I was one of the fans in the crowd there, right behind you, and it was pretty special. Was that your most special memory of your time here?
“Yes, I reckon it could well be the most spectacular, but I also think that there were other goals that actually meant more. There were others that were more important. I believe that a lot of the time, the significance of the goal is what also makes it special. As we mentioned before, the goal against Spurs was really special, because of the game and how it had been going. Then you also have the goal against Tottenham from this season. I think it was 2-0, that was also a lovely goal, and a very important one too… So I don’t know, maybe the one against Fulham was the best to look at, but there are others that still have a special flavour to them!”
Could you choose a player of the year from this season, the best player in your opinion?
“I think that overall, this season, the team has been a little inconsistent throughout the entire campaign. I don’t think that we ever managed to find that… how would you put it... that consistency during the season, whether it be in the group as a whole, or also on an individual basis. Sometimes it was down to injuries, other times it was down to the dips in form that we can go through as players. But I think it was an inconsistent season for us, very inconsistent, in every sense of the word I believe. But I think that the stand-out player for us this season, and someone who did show a little bit more consistency, playing well regularly and always being there for us, has been Cristiano [Ronaldo]. I think that, apart from having a short period when he wasn’t getting on the scoresheet, which can happen when you are a striker, Cristiano was probably our one player who showed the most consistency. After him comes David [De Gea], as he has also been one of the most consistent performers in the squad, so together, they have been the most consistent and best players in the squad from our season this time around.”
There have also been a few youngsters like Anthony Elanga who, in contrast to United’s form as a team, have played well this season…
“Yes, Anthony has also had a good season since he came into the side and started to play much more regularly, and I believe he maintained a high level of performance during the game time he has had. So yes, to me, I think Anthony was also one of the players in our squad who stood out for us. But then it’s all relative because let’s say everything really depends upon how well the team is functioning and performing throughout the year. So as I was saying before, if your side’s performances are in the main lacking in consistency, it might be that a player stands out more than the others. However, but for sure, if the team had shown a lot more consistency over the whole season, the players might possibly have been able to shine even more. That’s just what I believe to be my opinion anyway.”
There have also been plenty of youngsters training with the first team this year and they’ve spoken about learning from you. Guys like Joe Hugill, Alvaro Fernandez and Alejandro Garnacho. Do you try to set the right example in training?
“I believe, say and always think that a player has to always be very professional, because football is a professional sport, and to make it as a pro, you have to be professional in your outlook too. And this requires you to be able to apply yourself to the job in hand. And to work seriously hard whenever you go out onto the training pitch, or whenever you go to work in the gym, whatever it is you might have to do. You have to do your work in a professional manner. Not just to show off the way you work in training, but rather because I think that is just the way it has to be. That is the only way that will help you to win things and to let you feel satisfied with the work you’ve put in. Do you understand? Because if you don’t put in a shift during training, or train badly, in the end when things don’t go well for you, you’re never going to have that calm confidence inside you that you have done everything you possibly could have had to do. So, I believe that speaking personally for me, the way I work, and train and the way I do things is always the same. Because that is my theory, my ideology on life, more than just on football. Give everything you have and do your very best in every training session, just like you are meant to do. And that will give me the peace of mind when I step out onto the pitch, to go and perform to the very best level that I can. Sometimes things will go well and other times not so well. So I’d say that if they want to see me as setting a good example, then that’s great. But honestly speaking, I don’t think you have to work hard to show or demonstrate anything, I think you have to work hard because you believe that is the right way to win things and achieve stuff in the game.”
After spending two years at the club, what would your message to the United fans be?
“I sincerely have nothing but words of gratitude towards the fans and supporters of Manchester United. Honestly, they have shown me a lot of respect from the very first moment I arrived. I think they’ve greatly recognised all the hard work I’ve always tried to put in in the best way possible, giving my best for this team. I really am very grateful, and I’ll be leaving here with a happy memory of that affection they showed me and always displayed. But it’s also a bit like I mentioned to you. I’ll have that slightly bitter taste of having wanted to contribute more and having really wanted to feature more regularly this season. Of being able to have shown a little more consistency that, on occasions, injuries and other small issues have not allowed me to do. But I want to sincerely thank them from the bottom of my heart, because they have always shown me a lot of affection, and that is very important for a footballer.”