Jadon Sancho: I wanted to be part of this club
It’s been a busy summer for Jadon Sancho in more ways than one. After helping England reach the Euro 2020 final, the 21-year-old has now completed his dream move to Manchester United. And he cannot wait to get going.
Before heading off for a short holiday following his Euros exertions, the attacker sat down with Mark Sullivan to discuss his exciting switch from Borussia Dortmund, his relationship with United's England internationals, and what he hopes to achieve with the Reds…
Jadon, welcome to Manchester United. How does it feel to be able to call yourself a United player?
“It’s an honour. Growing up, Manchester United was one of the biggest clubs that everyone knows, and of course there is also all the trophies they’ve won and there have been many iconic players that have come before me. So I’m very happy to be wearing this jersey now.”
Talk us through the timeline of the transfer from your perspective – when did you hear it might be happening and when was it finally confirmed?
“To be fair, when I was at Dortmund I was just playing my football and blocking out all of the noise and focusing on what me and my team had to accomplish. Obviously when I was at the Euros that’s when things started to pick up even more and I started to hear that United were interested, and I’m here today.”
Our fans will be delighted – there has been so much talk about you on social media and you’re on the top of so many fans’ wish lists, so how does it feel to have that support already from the Reds?
“It feels very nice. To have the fans by my side is always a great feeling, especially when you come to a new club, because you need to feel comfortable straight away, and I’m sure the fans will give me that feeling.”
You do have experience of Manchester before – will that help you settle in quickly?
“Yeah, definitely. I know the area quite well so it will.”
From a personal perspective, how does it feel to be returning to England after four years away?
“It feels nice. My family can come and watch me play and it’s nice to be close to them again.”
You could be making your United debut against Leeds on 14 August. Playing in the Premier League must be something you’ve been craving – can you imagine how it will feel if you get the chance to play in that game?
“Yes, definitely, I’m excited for the new season, especially as the first game is at home. That’s always a confidence booster – to be in front of your own fans – so it will be nice.”
You could be up against your England team-mate Kalvin Phillips too…
“[Smiles] Definitely – I told him to watch out, so he knows!”
You’ve obviously had four successful years in Germany and had a great time at Dortmund. How did your spell in the Bundesliga help you develop?
“It helped me grow as a player and I had the experience of playing in the Champions League and getting the feel of big games. I feel like I did well in those big games and now I’m ready for a new challenge and a bigger step.”
How did it shape you as a person, given you were very young when you moved there? It was a very brave decision…
“Yeah, definitely. Obviously it’s helped me mature as a player and a person, so I could say I took that on really well, and my former team-mates helped me a lot with settling in over in Germany and helped me stay focused.”
What was life like in Dortmund away from the pitch?
“It was very nice. I had quite a lot of friends in Dortmund so we used to just go out and get something to eat and just chill really.”
Coincidentally, you had two team-mates in Erling Haaland and Giovanni Reyna who were both born in England, and Jude Bellingham moved there as well, so you had a bit of an English connection there…
“Yeah, definitely. I had to start it [smiles] and obviously they followed! They’re great lads with great potential as well, so I’m looking forward to where they’re going to be soon.”
You’ve already got a strong bond with some of the lads in our squad, particularly Marcus Rashford. Talk to us about that friendship – when did you first meet and what were your first impressions of him?
“I first met Marcus when I first got selected for England. I don’t think he was at that first camp, I think he was at the second camp after that, when we played Czech Republic. I think him and Jesse [Lingard] were at that camp. Him and Jesse were obviously together and I just started to speak with them and we started hanging around with each other and we’ve got closer and closer ever since.”
And you’ve got a strong bond with Luke [Shaw] too…
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, with Luke as well. This is my first tournament meeting Luke, because previous camps he wasn’t there. But Luke is a very nice guy and one of my guys to speak to in the changing room.”
You’ve spent the summer with Luke, Marcus and Harry [Maguire] as well – will that help you settle in quickly?
“I would hope so and like to think so. We spoke about it at St George’s and I’m sure they’ll help me settle in, and whatever I need I will go to them and they’ll help me out for sure.”
Welcome to United, Jadon Sancho gallery
It's fair to say our new signing from Borussia Dortmund looks brilliant in the fresh 2021/22 kit.
Have you had the chance to watch much of United over the last couple of seasons?
“Well, I usually just watch Match of the Day for all the highlights of the Premier League games and see how they’re doing.”
It’s a young squad, which you’re part of now. Was that one of the main attractions of making the move, in terms of playing with some of the talented young players we’ve got here?
“Yeah, definitely. That’s one of the reasons why I came to Manchester, because I can see the development that’s going on here and I want to be a part of it, especially because it’s such an iconic club and being part of it is kind of a dream come true. I’m sure my family will be proud of me making this big step.”
There are some massive players to be training with and learning from now, including Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani, who a lot of our lads have learnt so much from. Are you looking forward to learning from them?
“Definitely. Obviously they have a lot of experience in major finals and big games, so learning off them will be a very nice thing, and playing with them will be a different kind of feeling.”
In terms of your development as a footballer, when did you learn to first kick a ball?
“To be fair, when I was younger, on my estate in South London, I just used to watch the older boys playing around and ever since then I just used to join in with them and started to fall in love with it, and then in school it was just always football and even after school it was just football. That’s when it got serious.”
Was it mainly park football or street football?
“It was definitely cage football – so when we saw the Ronaldinho adverts of him nutmegging people, that’s what we tried to do.”
Who were your early influences and who did you look up to?
“Ronaldinho and obviously Wayne Rooney for England – those two are very iconic and great role models.”
Was there a Man United player who you thought was special and modelled your game on?
“I feel like everyone’s different and I feel like I’ve got different attributes to all the other players, but obviously Cristiano Ronaldo and what he’s done in his career is a fantastic thing – where he started at Sporting and then he came to Manchester. So it’s always good to see that all these iconic players have come through an iconic club.”
If you were talking about your game to a United fan who hadn’t seen you play, how would you describe yourself?
“Eager to win and determined to get trophies. Goals and assists and a bit of skills here and there! [Smiles]”
What gives you a bigger buzz, a goal or an assist?
“I feel like they’re both as important as each other, because if you don’t assist then where’s it coming from?! You’re kind of scoring the goal when you assist and then you’ve scored a goal off an assist, so both are as important as each other.”
How do you look back on your Euros experience as a whole, and what was it like to be part of this huge tournament?
“It was obviously interesting. I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to, but definitely to get a feeling of a major tournament was really important for me, especially given it was such a great group of lads. I will definitely take a lot away from that.”
It must have been a very special feeling to have been involved in the game against Ukraine…
“Definitely, my family was definitely proud of me at that moment. I was kind of proud of myself to be able to play in front of the nation.”
How proud are your family of this move to United?
“They’re very happy for me. Even when I went to Dortmund they were very happy with me and they kept on saying just keep working hard and more things will come your way, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
They must have been such a support to you – does it give you extra motivation to pay them back?
“Yeah, definitely. That’s one of the main reasons why I play football, because when I was younger, it was hard growing up. So I do everything for them and I want to keep it that way.”
Who’s the first person you speak to after a game?
“It depends. If I don’t have a really good game then I’m a bit down on myself, so I keep myself to myself really. But if I have a good game then probably one of my friends.”
How would you describe your character?
“Around the place it will be serious on the pitch, but also some vibes and a bit of jokes here and there! [Smiles] But definitely when I’m on the pitch it’s time to be serious.”
Tell us a bit about your tattoos – which was your first one and which is the most meaningful one?
“This is my first one [points to a poem on his left forearm] but also the most meaningful one, because my little brother passed away when he was younger and when I was in primary school I wrote a poem that I read at the funeral, so this one is definitely my most meaningful one. The rest around it are birds, heaven, an angel, a butterfly and then I have my sister’s and my brother’s initials and then here I kind of freestyled, because I liked comics when I was younger. This isn’t finished yet – obviously there’s Spiderman, Sonic, the Simpsons…I haven’t finished yet so there’s more to come.”
You’re also joining another South Londoner in Aaron Wan-Bissaka here, and following in the footsteps of the likes of Rio [Ferdinand] and Becks [David Beckham] – how much are you looking forward to carrying on that tradition of Cockney Reds?
“It’s always good when there is another South London person in the team and I’m sure me and Aaron will catch up at some point when we’re training. It will be nice. Rio, as well, if he’s around.”
Tell us one thing about you which might surprise us?
“I’ve got many secret talents, but I don’t know if I should share them! [Smiles] You’ll have to wait and see!”
Finally Jadon, what’s your message to the United fans who are so eager to see you play?
“I can’t wait to get started and obviously want to bring trophies to where they belong. I can’t wait to get started – see you soon.”