“I’ve always seen the essence of football the same way, mainly what I learned from my dad, but you have to be able to adapt. That’s the key. If you live in those times and that the way football evolves, then you either adapt and change and modernize your way of thinking, or you will get stuck in the past. Of course, from my point of view, you have to have values and principles that you always stay, no matter how old you are, but there are some things that need to change.
“The essence of football for me is that I love to play with the ball. I like to be with the ball. I love aiming for wins, I like to feel like family in the locker room and with everyone at the club. I like to be at one with the fans and for them to be proud of the way we play and the way we try to win games. I love when I see players improve and move to a different level thanks to their teammates, the manager and everyone around them. There are a lot of things in football that I love, it’s that essence. For me the main thing is when I played with my friends at school, we played one-on-one, we tried things, we scored goals… yes, of course, now the requirements are different, but sport is the same and the core of it and the feeling that I have is the same.
“Of course football has changed. There have been a lot of changes since I started playing, from my dad playing too, until now. On and off the pitch. On the pitch, the way the game is played, tactically it has changed, physically it has changed and statistically it has changed. In every department, whether I am talking about nutrition or psychology or player care, a lot has changed… one of them being social media which is now very present in all aspects of football. It brings more distractions that we didn’t have before or that my dad didn’t have, although he probably had different distractions but not as many as now. But, again, this is something you have to adapt to these days or your frustration will be inevitable and too great.
“We can also talk about technology in football with the VAR and the new rules. Everything is changing in life, and in sport and football in particular, and probably 20 years from now we will say that has changed again in a different direction. The best thing you can do, and for me the smartest thing you can do, is adapt without losing your essence.
“United have always done that. He has adapted but also one of the many things that make this club great are the values it has stuck with over the years and through difficult times which for me show strength and truly believe in what your values are. That’s why it’s special to play for this club. It’s just amazing how he overcomes difficult situations and he will continue to do so as long as football is played because that is the way this club is.