Cavani: Why I had to extend my stay at United
Edinson Cavani has explained the reasons behind his decision to sign a new Manchester United contract, which keeps him at the club for at least another season, until June 2022.
El Matador also reacts to the chant that has been created in his name – to the tune of ABBA’s ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ – and looks forward to playing at a packed Old Trafford next season. Read our exclusive Q&A with Cavani here…
Congratulations on your new contract, Edi. What convinced you to stay?
“First and foremost, thank you very much for the congratulations. You know, to answer that question sincerely, about what the reasons were behind it and what is my motivation to stay, quite simply I would say it is exactly what this club represents, what Manchester United represents as an entity, as an organisation. That is down to the club itself, but also the people who work behind the scenes and within the club, obviously the supporters as well. As the days, weeks and months pass by, you do get to develop a huge affection for the club and I think, on a human level, it creates a bond with yourself, your team-mates and everybody who is part of the club, and you start to feel that. You notice that it is a real motivation and it gives you a desire to want to stay. I am very excited and keen to stay for another season, to give it my best, to help the club on the field as I can and hopefully bring some happiness and joy to the supporters.”
“Talking about the relationship with the manager, I think that any influence he has had hasn't just been now at the moment of signing a new contract, but from the very first moment, even before I had signed, with conversations that I had with the manager. The way that he put his trust in me, the way that he made his feelings known about me and the confidence that he had with me, that was great from the word go. But over time and as the months have passed, the situation has just confirmed what I originally thought about Ole and that confidence that he gave me. Obviously, as time has gone on and games have passed by, he has made some really positive comments privately and in the media about me, as have my team-mates and the technical staff, the backroom staff, here, so that really, really helps as well. I think when you are a player, it gives you a huge amount of confidence when you know you have the backing of not only your manager but also other people around you. When you do get glowing comments about you, that is a real positive and is something that you are really grateful for.
“One thing I would like to add here, which is very much to do with this question you have just asked me, is that it's a lot to do with my team-mates. I have been really touched and moved by the lads in the dressing room, saying stuff like: 'Edi, you can't go; stay, stay, we love you, we don't want you to leave'. You know, honestly and sincerely, that does give you that extra motivation to want to stay somewhere and gives you a real lift. It makes you want to give that extra bit more for the team, to want to stay longer, to try to achieve something and do your bit for the team in the future, so I was really touched by that.”
“I think you are absolutely right, family is really important. I think particularly in our Hispanic culture as well. It is a real pillar of our existence, family life. I am creating and building my own family here, and the closeness of your family is very, very important. That was one thing that did make the decision a little more difficult perhaps, the fact that - you probably heard that I was thinking that, after so many years of playing in Europe, all over Europe, being away from your close-knit family back home in Uruguay, your parents, your brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, all of those close family members you have missed for so many years, I had kind of promised myself that I would return and spend some time to catch up on all of those years I had missed through playing football abroad. But, talking about family again, my immediate family, with my partner and our children here, we sat down and had a good chat. We decided that because of the love that has been shown, that affection that has been shown by the fans, everyone within the club and my team-mates, we decided that we would sacrifice – not in a negative way – and put on hold going back to our family and parents back home. We wanted to do it for everyone who has shown that genuine affection for us and, as I say, family is the pillar of your existence, the most important ethical thing of your life, but we wanted to stay and play for one more year because of that kindness we have been shown here.”
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“It obviously makes me feel really, really happy inside and it fills me with pride as well. I always try to say I am very much a team player and a club man, I am not an individual who is in it for himself. I am in it for the lads and whole club. Also, I like to think that when I am playing football, I am playing to try to entertain and to bring some happiness to the fans, the people who get behind the side and cheer the side on from the stands and beyond. So that is a motivation that I have to win all of the time, to try to improve and perform well. I am doing it for the supporters who give us so much backing.”
Have you heard the chant that fans have created for you? It’s based on ABBA’s ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’…
“The funny thing is, the first time I heard the tune, it was not from the fans. It was one of the guys, one of the kit men. Every time I went past him at training, getting ready, he would be singing the song to me. It was amazing then when I heard the fans singing it as well. One, it is a good tune, I like the tune, and, two, it is another thing that makes you feel so happy inside. Obviously, it is a strange season and a weird year, with the circumstances in which we are playing but, in time, it would be amazing to, at some point, hear the fans singing that inside the stadium. But, yeah, it was the kit man who taught it me first.”
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“It is one of the things that I have given huge amounts of thought to, the fact that I can play in front of a packed house at Old Trafford. It is, to be honest, a dream and something marvellous when it actually comes true. It is something that you really want to experience, to really live and enjoy. So let's hope that when the good times come back, we do get to really enjoy it together and create moments that live in the memory.”