Rodrigo Possebon was formerly part of the Manchester United set-up and is back in England searching for a new club.
I’m back in England for the first time since I left Manchester United in 2010. I’m a midfielder, 26 and looking for a club. I’ve fixed a couple of trials with Championship clubs.
I flew from my home in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil. My career started there at Internacional, the world champions when I was in their youth ranks. Many players have gone from Inter’s youth system to Europe: Pato, Oscar, Nilmar, Fred, Sandro and Lucio.
At 15, I heard that a scout from United was following my steps in youth tournaments around Brazil. Since being very young my biggest aim was to play for a big club in Europe, but I never expected it could happen so fast.
The scout, John Calvert Toulmin, tried to make contact with Internacional, but the club didn’t want to talk. They said I was very young and they didn’t want to negotiate. After a year, they saw that I really wanted to go to United and there was nothing that they could do. I travelled twice to Manchester before signing, to meet the club and see everything.
I was 17 and I lived through things at United that money could not buy. It was the greatest experience of my life in terms of football, to live together with such great players and a legend as a manager.
The Manchester weather took some getting used to but I lived well in England. I always had in mind that when you go out to another country you should absorb the new culture and deal with it as quickly as possible, that attitude accelerates your adaptation. I liked fish and chips, but not with any sauce.
My two compatriots Rafael and Fabio were at the club as well, as was their family, which helped me a lot. I was always at their house; we had a very close relationship. With Anderson I have a very good bond too. Cristiano Ronaldo was a very good guy, always helping, chatting, advising and being close to us.
I tried to settle fast and put my mind into the football part. United gave me everything I needed to just focus in my job. I did my best in training and games, learned day-by-day surrounded by great players who helped me improve and grow.
English football was completely different from Brazilian. The tactics, type of players, a different type of grass. The game was quicker in terms of movement, passing and style of play. In Brazil you have more time on the ball, it’s warmer and the pitches are heavier than England. That makes it a bit slower, but not easier, just different.
Moving young to Manchester helped me to understand those things. As you are young you still have time to adjust your style. You will not change as a player and you don’t want to because United signed you because of your style, but you need to adapt and adjust.
After six months I started to train with the first-team, the best level you can get with some of the best players in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, Rooney, Anderson, the twins, Van der Sar, Vidic, Giggs, Tevez and a lot more were just first class. Fletcher, O'Shea and Wes Brown were funny and very nice with me.
Sir Alex Ferguson was very receptive with all the young players. He was always talking and asking how everything was, or if I needed something. In 2008, just after United became European champions, someone told me that I was travelling the next day to Johannesburg to join the first-team squad on the pre-season. I just packed things, took the yellow fever injection and went to Africa where I played two friendly matches. It was my first experience with the squad and was great. I was in Africa for the first time and with the first-team squad for the first time.
The games went well and I was a substitute in the opening Premier League game. Giggs had to come off. I looked around - there was only me as a midfielder. The manager called me. There were 75,000 supporters and not much time to think. I was on. When you play with such good players alongside you things get easy, you are almost always comfortable on the ball, and you need to make the right decisions. Rio spoke to me a lot when I was on the pitch. That impressed me, how he could play at such a high level and high concentration and still give me advice as he did.
I broke into the first-team and was in good shape. Unfortunately in football you are never fully protected against injuries and I suffered a bad tackle against Middlesbrough. But it could be much worse, that tackle could have broken my leg as people thought at the time. That didn’t happen, thank God. I was left with a deep cut in my leg and it was a month before I came back. And one month is a long time in football, especially for me at that time as I was doing well.
Ferguson was furious with the tackle and the Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate apologised. My United career never really got going then and I’ve been playing away. For Braga in Portugal, in Brazil and in Bahrain. But I have a great desire, and ambition to come back and play in England. I still think that there is no better place to play, in all terms and aspects: the level of the leagues, clubs, organisation, the structure, atmosphere and the environment are just fabulous. I like the fans, cities and the quality of life is good. So now I’m back, looking for a club…”