Utd Unscripted: Manchester United and Me
I wasn't always sure that I would play in England, but when I took the decision that I would, I was very clear in my mind that there was only one team I would play for.
That is the team I want to shine with. That is the team that fits me.
Of course, I was always aware of United. The person who doesn’t know about United is the one who hasn’t heard what football is. Everybody that knows football knows who United are. I remember watching them, of course. I remember 1999, against Bayern Munich, that crazy Champions League final. I remember Teddy Sheringham came in and scored, Solskjaer scored, and they went from losing the trophy to winning the trophy in a few minutes. Of course, it was more than 1999.
I had a pretty good eye on United, always. There were waves and waves of success that you remember, Ferguson dominating the Premier League.
And they were always in these red shirts…
I thought to myself: I can carry that shirt very well because it’s not too heavy for me.
Before United, I played for many big teams where you feel that pressure. You have to perform, give results or else somebody else will come in and do your job.
But I like that. I feel comfortable in those situations. I enjoy it and it makes me feel hungry, knowing that I need to perform, have to perform, that I need to prepare for it and train for it and be ready.
You have to think of the whole package, not only one thing that leads to another thing. If you focus on one thing then you fail on the other things; it’s the whole package and I really enjoyed that because that is when I feel that I’m on top. When you succeed in those circumstances, the feeling is nicer.
It was a huge thing, going to United, and when I join a club, I try to have an impact. It is important because you come with a lot of will, a lot of hunger, but also in my case a lot of expectation and big pressure.
I rise in these moments because this is how I like it to be.
I remember my first game for United.
We had a friendly game against Galatasaray, in Sweden.
Ok, you’re in my country now.
I get to play my first game with United, and after three minutes I get to score.
Even if it is just a friendly, you have to do that. You have to fit in as soon as possible. When you come to a big club like that, I don’t know how long they can afford to be patient for you to settle in. You need to settle in as fast as possible. So that’s what I tried to do. I worked, tried to do my thing, still adapt to the team, adapt to the coach’s philosophy and to the club, and I had no issues with those things because I’m professional. I like to work, I take instructions, at the same time I like to do my things that I think – I know – I’m good at, and I try to help the team in the best way.
Still, everybody was talking, thinking they knew everything.
My challenge was, at the age I was, coming to England, where I had years of everybody was saying I wasn’t good enough and all this bulls**t.
I like those things because they trigger me. They give me adrenaline. After three months, all of them were eating their own words. I needed new haters because all the old ones became my new fans!
Inside, I was like: f***, this is fantastic!
They really appreciated what I did and they were thankful. That is the best credit a player can get because when you do something and you get that response from the fans, it’s amazing. They are 50 per cent of everything we do. Imagine if you played in empty stadiums… you would not play. In Old Trafford it was always full. Always. In every away game they always showed up, always supported.
When you get that support, it makes you give more back to them. We owed that to them. That is what triggered me, the whole season, not only winning the trophies, although of course you want to win the trophies.
Like I say, that triggers you. That makes you play.
So that day, I get to score the two goals and we win a trophy.
Just like I said we would.
Wherever I went before United, I won, and it was my pleasure that it happened again in England. Winning is in my DNA, I need to win – that’s my mentality. I hate losing. I’m not a bad loser, but I hate it and I love to win. I said we would win and we won two big trophies. That speaks for itself.
That whole first season at United was fantastic. Everything was. I really enjoyed it. The family was happy, everybody was happy, the club took care of me and made it really easy for me. I just needed to turn up, put on my football boots and perform.
When I was a boy, I had a vision of what I wanted in my life. You never know what will happen, but I had my dreams, I had my will and my life became what it became. A lot of things have proven that if you want it, you will make it. You will achieve it. It’s all up to you. If you don’t work for it, you will not reach your objective. It’s my mentality. I like that pressure because I like to say before that I’ll do it because I really believe in it. I know I can do it.
When I came to United and I said I would conquer England, people were laughing at me.
I wasn’t joking.