Manchester United would turn a blind eye to players turning up to training drunk as part of ‘a moment of relaxation’ over the New Year period, former star Nani has claimed.
The four-time Premier League winner has revealed members of the squad were allowed to attend training the worse for wear after festive nights out and praised ex-boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s man-management during United’s ‘non-stop’ schedule.
READ ALSO: Get a Website For Your Business Today
Reflecting on sessions as part of the star-studded squad, Nani told Tribuna Expresso he had ‘nights out at the right time’ and ‘never got in trouble’, adding: ‘If I had the next day off, for example, then I could have some fun…on special days like Christmas or New Year – no one in England cares about that.
Ex-Man United star Nani says players were occasionally excused being short of peak condition
The Portuguese winger claims stars could turn up to sessions drunk in the new year period
Nani (far left) attended the 2011 Christmas night out in Manchester with fellow squad members
The Portuguese partied in the city with United after lifting the 2012-13 Premier League trophy
Rare nights on the town did little to halt United’s spate of successes under Sir Alex Ferguson
Nani was united with fellow Portugal regulars Anderson and Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford
‘On New Year, we could even go to training drunk and the coach didn’t care about it. That’s the side of [Sir Alex] that knew how to deal with the players and have the perception to say, “this day is special, I can’t make demands”.
‘We had been playing non-stop all year long. It was a joy, a moment of relaxation, a different kind of training – clowning around. I won’t lie, I liked nights out.’
NANI’S UNITED FEATS
Premier League: 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2012–13
Champions League: 2007-08
EFL Cup: 2008–09, 2009–10
Community Shield: 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011
Club World Cup: 2008
Nani joined a glittering United squad when he signed from Sporting Lisbon alongside compatriat Anderson for £35million in 2007.
The winger briefly lived with team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo after moving to England and tested himself in training against the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs.
He scored one of United’s spot-kicks in their penalty shootout win over Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final in his first season at the club, when he also won the Premier League for the first time.
Speaking about Ferguson’s approach, Nani recalled: ‘It was amazing.
‘He knows how to deal with the player, whether they are older or younger. He knows how to manage their professional career and the human being.
‘With him I can say that I gained a unique experience and maturity because they were very important phases of my life.
Nani was 21 when United tasted Champions League glory during his first season at Old Trafford
United legend Sir Alex was a fatherly figure to the young midfielder and helped him to grow up
He joined the likes of Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Ryan Giggs during eight years at United
Nani took over as captain when Ronaldo was forced out of the final for Portugal at Euro 2016
‘I needed to grow up really fast, to learn and deal with that culture and the club culture. It was great for me to have Sir Alex Ferguson. [Assistant manager] Carlos Queiroz, who was also exemplary in this respect, spoke the [Portuguese] language [and] was fundamental for me.’
Nani initially moved in at Ronaldo’s because the striker, who won the Ballon d’Or at the end of Nani’s first season, was living alone. ‘We stayed together, kept each other company and helped each other,’ Nani reminisced.
‘We were adventurous and we liked to compete. We had a lot of competition at his house. It was tennis, ping pong, swimming – even in practice we would sometimes invent a ball game to see who won.’
A loan spell back to Sporting followed Louis van Gaal’s arrival as manager at Old Trafford in 2014, and he has since played for Fenerbahce, Valencia, Lazio and Sporting again before moving to current club Orlando City in February.