Bruno Fernandes reveals the five players who inspired him

Photo: Jon Super/The Guardian

Manchester United midfielder, Bruno Fernandes has named his top five football inspirations, and they include some of the best midfielders to ever play the game.

The Portuguese listed the likes of Ronaldinho, Andres Iniesta, Andrea Pirlo, Zinedine Zidane and of course, his countryman, Cristiano Ronaldo during a chat with Man United’s official website.

On Cristiano Ronaldo, he said, “When Cristiano began to take his first steps in the national team, it was in the Euros (2004) in our home country (Portugal), so I was nine years old.

“That year stays with everyone because we lost the final and we saw him crying afterwards. He was a young boy who was starting to shine and from there I started to watch him.

“It was the way he worked every day, the mentality he had, the capacity he had to give 100 per cent 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 he was still trying to improve. 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 then goes up and down, or do you want to be the player who always wants to be at the top? Okay, you will have bad games for sure, everyone has.

“Cristiano has had bad games but the point is [how you] come back from a bad game. The mentality is ‘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.”

On Pirlo, the midfielder noted, “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 don’t know, I prefer to be a no.10 because I’m closer to the goal, I’m closer to assist my team-mates and I like to play there, but Pirlo was a player who improved in all positions.

“Pirlo played as a no.10, then he played as a no.8 and he improved, then he played as a no.6 and he improved. 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.”

Bruno said of Iniesta, “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.”

Speaking on Ronaldinho, he said, “When I grew up, the first player I really liked to watch was Ronaldinho. He had this kind of magic that nobody else had.

“He went everywhere with a smile on his face. He’d take a tackle and still be smiling. He’d give a nutmeg and have a smile on his face. If he won, he had a smile on his face. Even if he lost, he had a smile on his face.

“He was just the sort of player you enjoy watching. That was really important for me when I was growing up because when you are a kid, you have to enjoy your football. And when you watched Ronaldinho, you understood what it means to enjoy football.”

And on Zidane, he said, “And Zidane… what a player. A masterclass [in playing] no.10.”