Fred exclusive: How I'm adapting to English life
It's always tough for new arrivals to adapt to the Premier League but a solid start from Fred has helped the midfielder settle in - both on and off the pitch.
How was it growing up in Brazil?
I was really happy during my childhood in the area where I grew up. I had many friends in the neighbourhood, always playing football in the streets. My father signed me up for football training when I was only four and my grandfather also used to take me. My family have always supported me to develop my football. When I was 10 I started playing for Atletico Mineiro and that was the start of my professional career. I played for Atletico and Internacional and then moved to Ukraine with Shakhtar Donetsk. My family supported me a lot and I'm very thankful for them. They were always by my side supporting my dream - it was their dream, too. And today I'm here in Manchester, in this country that is so different to Brazil and Belo Horizonte but I'm adapting well. My first son is going to be born here. I like this country a lot and I hope I can stay here for many years.
You then went on to score your first professional goal against Atletico, for Internacional...
It was such a mixture of feelings. I was very emotional and happy, to understand that I was now a professional. My first goal as a professional and against the club I used to play for and had supported since I was a kid. All of my family support Atletico. On top of that, it was in my city, Belo Horizonte. My family were all there in the stadium - it was amazing. I was really happy with that goal and it was also against Ronaldinho, someone I admire a lot. Unfortunately we lost the game but it still gave me a lot of happiness.
Yes, I always watched a lot of English football. It has always been really strong. I use to watch United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, when Gilberto Silva used to play there. I have many idols like Gilberto, Thierry Henry, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes - many great players that have been here as well.
Do you know any of the other Brazilian players who live in Manchester? Have you done anything with them since you arrived?
My wife talks a lot with Fernandinho and Ederson's wives. For the players, the fixtures and training schedules are very different so we end up not having time. I hang out more with the United squad - Andreas Pereira and the players who speak Spanish. Even those who speak English. We meet after work to play video games and have dinner. It is important for the team. Paul Pogba, Andreas, Eric Bailly... we are close friends.
What do you do when you are homesick?
I do a lot of FaceTime. I'm always calling my family and friends from Brazil. What I miss the most is being around them. My mother, my father, my grandmother - I call them quite a lot. Brazilian food also helps a lot when I'm homesick. We are always cooking rice, beans, steak and farofa [a toasted flour dish] at my house.
The weather in Brazil is the best. It's hot! I'm from Minas so I was raised in the hot weather. To get out of this situation to go to a cold place... actually, I left Minas to go to Porto Alegre in the south of Brazil where it's cold, so I adapted a little. Then I went to Ukraine and it was an extreme change. I got to experience -20 °C and for me... I can't even explain how that feels. So here in Manchester, it's great! Sometimes I train in shorts while everyone is in long pants and gloves. It's funny. I've been through worse so I guess I'm used to this now.
How are you adapting to speaking English?
I managed to do some classes in Ukraine but people there didn't really speak English. They spoke Russian so that's what I learned there. I didn't get to practise much English but now I'm here and I'm going to classes. I want to learn as quickly as possible because I know it will help me to integrate and adapt here. I already know a lot of sentences, many words -
“How are you?”I know how to communicate. I'm studying so hopefully I will be better in no time.
How was learning to drive in England?
The first time I got a car it felt really different to drive on the opposite side. In other countries it's different and here the
“right”side seems weird. On the first day when I arrived during pre-season, I went to the training ground and they left a car for me to drive to the hotel. I had to figure it out and learn. Now it's okay, I've adapted to that and slowly I will adapt even more.
One of my brothers used to say that when I was sleeping I would say things, as if I was playing football. He said that I used to scream, especially when there was a final coming up with school, and I would wake up telling him to pass the ball, to shoot at the goal. I never realised.
If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
I don't think I would give any advice. When we are kids we live without thinking about the consequences. We do things our own way, we make mistakes but those are all lessons to learned. If, when I was I child, I hadn't done the right and wrong things I've done I wouldn't be here today.
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