Nani: What it was really like to live with Ronaldo
Former Manchester United winger Nani has explained how living with Cristiano Ronaldo helped him to settle at the club in 2007 – even if the ‘competitive’ experience came at a cost!
Cristiano, showing his generous side, also allowed another summer signing, Anderson, to live with him on a temporary basis following the Brazilian’s transfer from Porto that same summer.
As Nani explains with a smile in our new UTD Podcast, which is released worldwide from 17:00 BST on Monday, the experience of living with Ronaldo brings back many happy memories.
However, as you might expect from such a famously competitive individual, Cristiano rarely switched off and his relentless desire to test himself stretched to his new house guests.
“I knew him as a player and, very fast after we met in Manchester at the same time, we became friends. We were living for a month in the same house with Cristiano. It was fun for a month. We’d challenge ourselves a lot. We had some great, funny moments and helped each other so much. That’s why it was not so hard for me in the beginning and for Anderson too.
“The only time we were not playing was the night time, we’d sit on the sofa talking and Cristiano would just disappear [to bed]. We’d learn because me and Ando would be very tired when we woke up. He’d already been up two hours earlier, checking the news and would say: ‘Okay, let’s go’.
“He was the only one who had a car then, in the beginning, so we had to be ready to go with him. Fantastic moments and great memories we have.”
“My first international game was when I was in Sporting, I think in my second season as a professional. That was great because I had the opportunity to meet so many fantastic players, some players who I admired as a child. When I was young, I followed Deco, Maniche, Costinha, Luis Boa Morte. They gave me a helping hand at the beginning and then there was Cristiano.
“He was young but had so much quality and we were looking to him. We’d get close so fast because people were saying we had the same style. We were together in the first days after I arrived in the national team and that was it, even more so when I moved to Manchester.”
When asked if he liked that comparison or whether it became difficult, with so much expectation placed on his shoulders, Nani hints that it was testing but remains positive about his Reds career.
“I’d not let it affect me as my focus was not on there but, after, when I had more responsibility in Manchester, when Cristiano left, at the beginning it was a little bit difficult,” Nani explains. “There were a lot of comparisons and it looks like you need to prove yourself every time, to do the same or as good as him, when you are a different player.
“When you arrive, people in the stadium, all the fans, they love you because they saw something different in you. They like that difference but, after they create something in their minds that he needs to be the other Ronaldo, or the new Cristiano. For those moments it was a little bit difficult but, very fast, I learned how to protect myself and distract myself from that.
“I had great moments in Manchester. I enjoyed so much my football there. I had some injuries in the middle and several moments that didn’t allow me to perform consistently for as long as I wanted. But I’m still very happy for everything I did in that club, all the fantastic players I played with, the coaches, all the staff I met in that great club.
“For me, the most important, beautiful, great moments that passed for me were in Manchester. I just have beautiful visions and I don’t see the wrong moments, or the bad moments. I don’t need them, so I’m happy for one of the best moments in my life. I know that people still recognise me, love me, talk about what I did there. So why not think positively?
“I’m content to love the game, enjoy yourself and to still have dreams. I still have dreams. I wanted to be better, better, better. I know probably I’m not going to be better, but I put it in my head to maintain the level as much as I can to be as close to the level as before.
“I’ll always be Nani for everyone, you know.”
Listen to Nani's UTD Podcast in full, via Deezer and your favourite streaming platform, from 17:00 BST on Monday.