Nemanja Matic

Matic: Our Euro 2020 stars will come back stronger

Saturday 31 July 2021 12:00

Pre-season is in full swing and, as one of the most experienced players in our squad, Nemanja Matic has been leading from the front, in both training and games.

We sat down with the Serb for an exclusive interview recently, where he gave us his take on Euro 2020 – and why our England stars will come back stronger from their penalty shootout heartbreak at Wembley.

Matic also told us why new contracts for Juan Mata and Lee Grant are a big boost for the squad, and about the special feeling in the dressing room as we look to go one step better in the upcoming Premier League season...

Nemanja, how are you feeling personally after the summer break?
“It was great for me. It was a long holiday. I spent a lot of time with the family. I’m feeling very fresh and motivated for the season ahead.”
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Goal of the Day: Matic v Crystal Palace

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Did you watch a lot of the Euros? 
“I have to be honest, I didn’t watch many games. I started to watch from the quarter-finals. When I was in Serbia on holiday, I tried to spend more time with the family and the kids and enjoy the break, so I didn’t have too much time to watch football. But, from the quarter-finals, I started to watch and there were some interesting games. There was some good football, especially the final which was a very interesting game.”
What did you think of the final? It was obviously very tough on Harry, Marcus, Luke and Jadon – a very difficult way to lose on penalties…
“Yeah, but that’s football. It’s always hard to predict what’s going to happen. In a final, everything is possible; two great teams and everyone wants to win the trophy. It was a nice game to watch and after extra-time, when it’s penalties, everything is possible. I’m happy for our guys that they played in a final, and to be second in Europe is not easy. Of course, they wanted to win, but they are still young and they will have more chances to show their qualities.”
Presumably you stand right behind them all, not only in terms of the events of the game but also with what they had to deal with after the final?
“Yeah, of course. The guys are very young and they have a lot of pressure on them when they play for their club or their national team, it’s not easy when you are young to handle all of this. But they are strong enough and they will survive everything, and we are always with them. Their life is in front of them, they just have to enjoy their football and I think they will all have great careers and they will be fine.”
You’re one of the senior guys who can help the younger players, and another couple of experienced players have signed new deals and are hugely popular in the dressing room, in Juan Mata and Lee Grant. What would you say about those two?
"Fantastic people and players. As you know, Juan is the magician. The kids can learn a lot from him on the football pitch and outside the pitch. You know him very well, he has already been here eight years and he’s just amazing. Lee also, I’m really happy for him that he’s signed a new deal, especially when you see how fit he is and how he trains. He deserves everything good. As I said, the young players can learn a lot from them and me also. From everyone you learn, and they are both fantastic people and everyone at United is very happy that we have them in our team.”
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Highlights: United 2 Brentford 2

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Is there anything specific you have been working on personally in pre-season, and have you adapted your pre-seasons as you’ve got older? 
“Yeah. The most important thing always is to prepare your body for the long season and to be physically ready. If you train very well during pre-season then you have less injuries. They are part of football, especially as we have so many games, but the important thing is to be physically ready and you have to use every pre-season for that.”
Ole has talked about the togetherness and the spirit in the squad. Have you felt that grow over the last few years and do you feel this could be a big season for us?
“Yes, I think that everyone wants to give everything for the team; we can feel that in the changing room and the training sessions and the games. Everyone is ready, we all have the same target and we have to use that.”