5 things you did not know about Manchester United new boy Bruno Fernandes
- Bruno Fernandes is the Premier League's Player of the Month for February and has been in top form since joining United.
- While the whole world is gushing about the new United No. 18, here are 5 things you did not know about the Portuguese.
Bruno Miguel Borges Fernandes joined Manchester United at the end of January this year and immediately lifted the mood at Old Trafford. Since his arrival, the Red Devils are undefeated in all competitions and are finally looking like a complete package. United already have one foot in the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal, have progressed to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, and look hungry for a top-four finish. Fernandes in totemic form has been the fulcrum behind this turnaround.
The Portuguese recently won the Premier League Player of the Month for February and has not put a foot wrong since entering the football scene in England. His leadership qualities, his ability to carve out chances, and his intelligence on the field indicate that United have a gem on their hands right now. While Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford continued their recovery from injury, the Portuguese managed to become the Red Devils' new talisman.
But while the whole world is gushing about the new United No. 18, how much do we know about the former Sporting Lisbon player? Here are 5 things that you did not know about Fernandes.
#5 He spent four seasons in the Serie A
Fernandes joined Novara Calcio in the summer of 2012 as a youngster. He started playing in the youth team but soon showed enough promise to earn a call up to the first-team squad. The Portuguese appeared in over half of the first team games in the league in the 2012/13 season and helped his team to a fifth-place finish. He subsequently earned a move to Serie A side Udinese the following summer. Fernandes played at the Stadio Friuli for the next three seasons, making 95 appearances and scoring 11 goals.
In August 2016, the Portuguese sealed a loan move to Sampdoria, with an option for the deal to be made permanent at the end of the season. He went on to make 35 appearances for La Samp and found the back of the net 5 times. However, the Italian side turned down the chance to sign him permanently and Fernandes ultimately returned to Portugal to join Sporting Lisbon. The Portuguese managed 119 appearances in Serie A, scoring 15 goals. Hardly impressive numbers, but that experience of playing in Italy would turn out to be massive for him as he took the Primera Liga by storm in the following years.
#4 He married his high-school sweetheart
The Portuguese has United fans drooling over him, thanks to his performances on the pitch. However, one fact about his life outside the football pitch will most certainly make fans love him even more. As it turns out, he is a hardcore romantic who fell in love with the woman of his dreams as a teenager and went on to marry her.
Fernandes met Ana Pinho at school when they were just 16 years old. It was the Manchester United man who made the first move, trying to woo Ana, who was a bit skeptical at the start. After a lot of persuasion though, she finally gave in and the two of them began their relationship that went from strength to strength with time.
Ana played a huge part in Fernandes’ life during his years in Italy. He initially found it tough to cope with a new environment and a different country. That was when he sought his childhood sweetheart’s help, asking her to move in with him to help him settle down. She obliged and arrived in Italy to provide him much needed support. They finally got married in December 2015 and their daughter, Matilde, was born in January 2017.
#3 He was mentored by Antonio Di Natale at Udinese
After his first season with Novara in Serie B, the Portuguese had begun to draw the attention of the giants of Italian football, with both Juventus and Inter Milan showing interest in his services. However, 'the Maradona of Novara' (as he was called by the local press), decided to join Udinese.
When he made the move to Serie A, Fernandes was still a raw talent. He was immediately taken under the wing by club legend Antonio Di Natale, who paid special attention to his skills, advising him, guiding him, and paying very close attention to his style of play. In many ways, having a mentor like Di Natale helped Fernandes develop into a fine player, even though he did not immediately show the effects of it. However, Di Natale continued to persist and provided his protégé with much-needed confidence during his developing years.
The Udinese legend was not averse to putting the Portuguese in his place either, often giving him a dressing down when required. The most scathing assessment was provided in October 2015, when Di Natale expressed his frustrations at Fernandes’ tendency to go missing in games. Speaking to Gazetta dello Sport, he had said:
Bruno Fernandes irritates me because he's young and he's the one with the most quality among us all. He has incredible feet, but sometimes he gets comfortable during the games
In time though, Fernandes did come good and gathered rave reviews during his time at Sporting Lisbon. He has also been exceptional since joining Manchester United and already looks like a world-class midfielder who can turn things around for the Red Devils. Di Natale would certainly be proud of him now.
#2 The story behind the No. 8 tattoo
Football players and tattoos go hand in hand nowadays. Many world-class footballers, including Lionel Messi, have them, whereas quite a few, including Cristiano Ronaldo, have stayed away. Fernandes falls in the former category and sports a tattoo on his right arm.
The tattoo contains a number and an alphabet. While on one side, the letter 'F' is printed, the other side of his tattoo contains the number '8'. F represents his paternal family name, Fernandes, while the number holds a considerable amount of importance in his life. This is a fact that not everyone is aware of.
The Portuguese was born on 8th September 1994, which gives the number an added significance. He also used to wear the No. 8 jersey at Sporting, where he achieved immense success. Besides, it is also the number his father used to wear as a player before he had to give up the beautiful game to provide for his family. Fernandes prefers the No. 8 jersey as a tribute to his father, while the '8' in his tattoo also has a similar emotional significance.
#1 He won two back-to-back Primera Liga Player of the Year Awards
When Fernandes joined Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2017, it did not raise too many eyebrows, especially since his time at Italy was not a huge success. However, the Portuguese was determined to put the disappointment behind him and hit the ground running on his return to his nation. Fernandes scored four goals in his first five games for his new club and clearly announced his intentions to the rest of the league – he was here to make a difference. He ended his first season with 16 goals and 12 assists from 56 appearances for Sporting. Fernandes was named the Primera Liga Player of the Year in July 2018, but he was just warming up.
The following season, the Portuguese reached a truly remarkable form, scoring 32 goals and registering 18 assists from 53 games in all competitions. After the end of the season, he had won his second Primera Liga Player of the Year award. Besides that, Fernandes has won the Primera Liga Player of the Month award seven times in his two-and-a-half season stay in the league. He has also been in the Primera Liga Team of the year for both of his first two seasons! The Portuguese was Sporting Lisbon’s Player of the Year for both 2018 and 2019.
Published 19 Mar 2020, 22:21 IST