Bruno Fernandes has revealed two of his major influences in football, with Brazilian legend Ronaldinho and Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta the players he looked to for inspiration.
The former Sporting midfielder signed for Manchester United in January from Alvalade in a deal worth €80m, and has so far proved hugely popular in his new surroundings. Speaking in a Q&A with the club’s social media, the 25-year-old spoke about those who shaped his early impressions of the sport.
“I don't know [who first inspired me] because in my family everyone plays,” he said. “My father plays, my brother plays, so I think I follow in the steps of the family. I have some cousins also who play football and futsal. The family played every Sunday on the pitch close to my home.
“So I grew up going there and when I became 13 or 14 years old, I started to play with them and sometimes my dad kicked me a little bit, just to prepare me for the Premier League! Of course I had my brother, I watched my brother every time. When you have a brother who is five years older than you, you look at him. You grow up and you try to do everything that he does.
“I have a lot of players I liked to watch. For example, in my first few years, the player I think is the one everyone liked and always will like is Ronaldinho. For me, he is the player with the capacity to take you and put you in front of the TV, and you will stay for hours. For hours! Because he had that energy and happiness. He was happy in everything he did. You enjoy it when you see guys playing like that, so for the first few years Ronaldinho was my favourite player.
“After this, I have already said that Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the players. As a professional player, he is the best you can follow.”
Iniesta the guy
Fernandes was then asked if there was a particular player he modelled his game on. “The one I liked to watch and follow was Iniesta, because Iniesta is a mix between an eight and a 10,” he said. “It is what I am best at, between eight and 10.
“It is the guy who always likes to have the ball, take the risks, and I think Iniesta was one of the best in the world. For me, it was surprising how Iniesta finished his career without the Ballon d'Or [award]. With everything he won, it is difficult for me to understand!”
So how would Fernandes describe himself? When the question was posed, the Seleção star replied: ““Warrior, because for me every game is a battle. You need to go out to the game and just understand you need to beat your opponent. With all of the respect, because you need to have respect for your opponent, but you need to beat them.
“If you don't beat them, they will beat you. It doesn't matter who is on the other team. If it is a friend, because I have friends playing in the Premier League, I don't care. At that moment I will be the biggest enemy they can have.”