Bruno Fernandes lifts the lid on his football heroes growing up

Bruno Fernandes is currently the hero in Manchester United’s team, along with Marcus Rashford.

The Portugal international arrived from Sporting Lisbon and January. He made an instant impact and turned our season around by contributing to a third place finish which brought Champions League football back to Old Trafford.

At this stand, he is a leader in a very average side. A team not ready to compete at the same level as himself.

It has looked that way at times this season, and Fernandes doesn’t hold back when he decides to have a pop at his team-mates. That nasty streak helps explain the type of player Fernandes is and there is nothing I would change about him.

Fernandes appears on the official Manchester United podcast this week — episode released from Monday evening — and we’ve got snippers from the interview to share with our readers.

He is asked about the football heroes he had growing up.

“The first one was Ronaldinho,” Fernandes told the UTD Podcast. “When I grew up, the first player I really liked to watch was him. He had this kind of magic that nobody else had. He was just a different player. He went everywhere with a smile on his face, he’d take a tackle and still aiming, he gives a ‘meg and he’d haver a smile on his face, he loses, he has a smile on his face, he wins and he has a smile on his face.

“It is really important for me watching him when IU was growing up because when you are a kid, you have to enjoy your football. This is the time to enjoy football. And when you watch him, you understand what it means to enjoy football. For me he was the first player I ever watched and then, growing up, everyone knows Cristiano was my favourite player.

“I think it was a little bit of everything. When Cristiano began to take his first steps in the national team, it was in the Euros in our home country (Euro 2004), so I was nine years old. That year stays with everyone because we lost the final in Portugal, we saw him crying after the final, he was a young boy who was starting to shine and from there I started to watch him. It wasn’t because he plays in my position because that wasn’t the case, but it was the way he worked every day, the mentality he had, the capacity he had to give 100 percent in every game at a high level, for me it was like a motivation, like you always have to do better. He was scoring goals every game, but game after game he was still trying to improve, get better.

“My mentality comes a little bit from understanding what sort of player you want to be. Do you want to be that player who has a good season, and maybe goes up and down, up and down, or do you want to be the player who always wants to be at the top? Ok, you will have bad games for sure, everyone has – Cristiano has had bad games, 100 percent – but the point is, coming back from a bad game. Coming back with the mentality that is, ok I didn’t play well in that last game and I really need to do well in this one. The mentality to do better day after day is really important for me. I’m improving a lot because of this, and that was my biggest motivation. I can say there are three players in my position who I appreciate a lot. One of them is Andres Iniesta, for me he is the best one, the one I like most, and the other two are Zinedine Zidane and Andreas Pirlo. Pirlo started out as a no.10, then he started to move back to become a no.6, and I think my career will be a little bit like this! I hope not, because I prefer to play as a no.10, but every coach I’ve had in the past, they’ve all said the same – you will be a great no.6. I dunno, I prefer to be a no.10 because I’m closer to the goals, I’m closer to assist my team-mates and I like to play there, but Pirlo was a player who improved at all positions. He plays as a no.10, then he plays as a no.8 and he improves, then he plays as a no.6 and he improves. He was always good, he’s that kind of player. You look at him and his hair is always in the same place – and he has big hair, it’s impossible! He has that class, he has something different to everyone else. And Zidane… what a player. A masterclass no.10.”

Maybe one of United’s next superstars is idolising Fernandes right now.

He’s one of the best role models for professional in the modern game with a required bit of bite about him.

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