Nani and Sir Alex Ferguson in a promotional image for UTD Podcast

UTD Podcast: My awkward car journey with Sir Alex

Sunday 17 May 2020 22:30

Over the years, there have been plenty of stories about Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous hairdryer treatment, and no Manchester United player would have wanted to be in the Scotsman’s company for too long after a fiery outburst.

Well, that’s exactly the fate that met our former winger Nani, after he missed a penalty during a 2-2 away draw against Fulham, in August 2010.

The Portuguese attacker offered to drop Sir Alex home, a decision he most likely regretted not long after.
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“He was my neighbour and we used to go to London by train,” Nani explained during his UTD Podcast episode, which is available from Monday on Deezer, and other podcast providers.

“His wife or his family used to leave him in the train station so on the way back he has no driver to take him, so he was looking for someone who lives close to him to give him a ride. I said: ‘OK boss, I’ll take you home!’ But that day, it’s so funny, believe me! The day I took him home was after a game against Fulham away.

“I was playing unbelievable with a lot of confidence. We won a penalty and it was Ryan Giggs who took the penalties. I felt confident and Giggs didn’t say anything. I took the penalty and I missed! The penalty should make it 3-2.”

“I drove him back home and he didn’t talk to me in the car! In the dressing room he killed me! He said: ‘Nani, who do you think you are? Who gave you permission to take the penalty?’
“Then he killed Ryan Giggs… ’Ryan, why did you let him take the penalty!’ Ryan said, ‘He grabbed the ball and I let him.’ Oh my god, that day was incredible. I took him home and I feel very uncomfortable driving.”

That car journey wasn’t the first time Nani was a little intimidated by Sir Alex, as he revealed during the podcast.

“At the beginning, I was very scared of him. Like a father, you know? To make a mistake or do something wrong, because sometimes to interact with him, I don’t know.

“I see him talking with other players and I want to be involved but I think what am I going to say, you know? I don’t know. But I was scared of him until I learned to understand and was able to express myself.
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“My English has never been perfect, or going to be, but at that time it was worse than now and when we he found I could speak more with him, he started coming to me and giving me more attention. And from then, I learned more about Sir Alex Ferguson. What he wanted to do, who he was and the relationship started to be better.  

“He’s a man who knows how to manage all characters, all different ages, all different personalities,” Nani added. “My personality in that time, I was young, and not easy. I know that and I learned a lot, I changed a lot. That is life. You must learn.”

Another man who had a big impact on Nani during his time at Old Trafford was our former defender Patrice Evra.

“Evra was one of the best friends I had in Manchester because, every time when I needed it, he was there to give me some advice and would come down and think what I have to do to be positive. He was like a brother.”
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“It was good. All the players, there were many fantastic moments and one thing I enjoyed more, what I learned, was what happened on the field stayed on the field. Outside is another life, another thing.

“We as a team, this is private, used to fight a lot in training,” he added. “Not fight like this but challenge hard – everyone and someone would say he didn’t like it. He’d say: ‘Come on, what are you doing?’ and it was close to a fight. Others would separate them and, from there, you’d go to the gym or inside to the facility, it’s gone.

“That’s why we were champions, the hardest team to beat. Every time it arrived, we had to be a real team to beat anyone and we were there. That’s why I get a lot of experience from that time of life I lived in Manchester.”

You can listen to Nani’s full UTD Podcast episode from Monday at 17:00 BST, on Deezer and other podcast providers.