Nani has admitted that he was initially “scared” of Sir Alex Ferguson, revealing that the former Manchester United boss once “killed” him and Ryan Giggs in front of their team-mates.
Nani arrived at Old Trafford in 2007 from Sporting CP and struggled for a long time with the language barrier. However, the winger knew just how angry Ferguson was with him after a missed penalty against Fulham in 2010.
Giggs was on spot-kick duty that day at Craven Cottage but the in-form Nani took it upon himself to try to make it 3-1 to United. Unfortunately, the Portuguese winger missed and, to compound his disappointment, Fulham then snatched a point with an 88th-minute equaliser, much to Ferguson’s fury
“I was playing unbelievable with a lot of confidence,” Nani explained on the Official Manchester United Podcast. “We won a penalty and it was Ryan Giggs who took the penalties but I felt confident and Giggs didn’t say anything.
“So, I took the penalty but I missed. The penalty would have made it 3-1 and, in the dressing room afterwards, [Ferguson] killed me. He said, ‘Nani, who do you think you are? Who gave you permission to take the penalty?! Ryan?!’
“And then he killed Ryan Giggs, because he said, ‘Ryan, why did you let him take the penalty!’ Ryan said, ‘He grabbed the ball and I let him.’
“Oh my god, that day was incredible!”
To make matters worse, Nani had to share a care with the irate Ferguson after the game.
“I drove him back home and he didn’t talk to me,” the 33-year-old added. “I felt very uncomfortable!”
However, Nani explained that as his English improved, so too did his relationship with Ferguson.
“At the beginning, I was very scared of him. Like a father, when you make a mistake or do something wrong, you know?” the Euro 2016 winner explained.
“I would see him talking with other players and I wanted to be involved but I was thinking, “What am I going to say? I didn’t know.
“So, I was scared of him until I learned to understand the language better and was able to express myself.
“My English has never been perfect, and is never going to be, but, at that time, it was worse than now and when we he found I could speak more with him, he started coming to me and giving me more attention.
“From then on, I learned more about Sir Alex Ferguson.”
It wasn’t just Ferguson whom Nani struggled to bond with at first either. The Orlando City winger also took time to strike up a rapport with his team-mates.
“Giggs, (Paul) Scholes and Rio Ferdinand were always pushing me and saying things to me,” recalled Nani, who won four Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford. “I didn’t understand what they were doing. I thought they didn’t like me.
“They would just go mad at me all the time but that was because but they saw a lot of potential in me in training and actually believed in me.
“After two years or three years, I started to realise that, so I tried to do what they were saying to me.”