Nani has revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson once refused to speak to him on a car journey home after the Manchester United star missed a penalty.
Ferguson was neighbours with the Portugal winger in Wilmslow and Nani used to give his manager a lift back from Stockport station when United travelled to games in London by train.
But after he came off the bench in a 2-2 draw at Fulham in August 2010 and had a penalty saved by goalkeeper David Stockdale, Ferguson lambasted Nani in the dressing-room and then gave him the cold shoulder on the way home.
Nani has recalled the time Sir Alex Ferguson blanked him after missing a penalty in 2010
The Portuguese star insisted he take the spot-kick ahead of Ryan Giggs but missed
Ferguson was so furious that when Nani gave him a lift home, the Scot ignored his player
The situation was made even worse because the player had insisted on taking the penalty ahead of Ryan Giggs with United 2-1 in front, and Fulham defender Brede Hangeland then made up for an own-goal by heading a late equaliser.
‘He (Ferguson) was my neighbour and we used to go to London by train,’ recalled Nani on the Official Manchester United Podcast.
‘His wife or his family used to leave him in the train station so on the way back he has no driver to take him so he was looking for someone who lives close to him to give him a ride.
Ferguson, with his infamous ‘hairdryer’ treatment, laid into the winger in the dressing room
‘So I said, “okay boss, I’ll take you home!” But that day, it’s so funny believe me! The day I took him home was after a game against Fulham away and I was on the bench.
‘I was playing unbelievable with a lot of confidence. We won a penalty and it was Ryan Giggs who took the penalties. I felt confident and Giggs didn’t say anything. I took the penalty and I missed!
‘In the dressing-room he killed me. He said, “Nani, who do you think you are? Who gave you permission to take the penalty?”.
They were neighbours at Manchester United and Nani would drop Ferguson at his home
The star came on as a substitute against Fulham but missed a penalty he took off Ryan Giggs
‘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.
‘We are going back home that day and I say, “boss, I can take you home”. I drove him back home and he didn’t talk to me in the car. I felt very uncomfortable driving home.’
Even so, Nani describes his relationship with Ferguson as ‘perfect’ during an eight-year United career that followed his £17million move from Sporting Lisbon in 2007.
‘He’s a man who knows how to manage all characters, all different ages, all different personalities,’ added the winger, now 33 and playing for Orlando City in MLS. ‘My personality in that time, I was young, and not easy. I know that and I learned a lot, I changed a lot. That is life. You must learn.
Nani featured for United in an iconic period, with a crossover in generations at the club
‘It was so important for me to have Giggs, (Paul) Scholes and Rio Ferdinand because they were there every time, pushing me and saying things to me.
‘I was not understanding what they were doing. I thought they didn’t like me. They would just, every time, go mad at me because things didn’t go well. But they saw a lot of potential in me in training and were believing a lot in me.
‘After two years or three years, I started realising a lot. It’s one thing to listen but you try to do what they say. I tried to do what they were saying to me.
‘I learned a lot. (Patrice) Evra was one of the best friends I had in Manchester. Every time when I needed it, he was there to give me some advice and would come down and think what I have to do to be positive. He was like a brother. All the players, there were many fantastic moments.’
Despite the frosty ride Nani has fond memories with Ferguson, building a huge trophy cabinet
Nani admitted that the players’ competitive streak often led to fall-outs in training with teammates having to be separated.
He was involved in a physical altercation with reserve team midfielder Davide Petrucci in September 2012, revealed at the time by Mail Online.
‘(Nemanja) Vidic, I trained a lot with him one-on-one and he was breaking my ankles! It was just friendly training,’ added Nani. ‘He was hard and intense, but I understand to train is to be as strong as we are: you feel the pain, you feel it’s hard, but no problem.
‘I learned that what happened on the field stayed on the field. Outside is another life, another thing.
‘We as a team, this is private, used to fight a lot in training. Not fight like this but challenge hard – everyone and someone would say he didn’t like it. He’d say, “come on, what are you doing” and it was close to a fight. Others would separate them and, from there, you’d go to the gym or inside to the facility, it’s gone.
‘That’s why we were champions, the hardest team to beat. Every time it arrived, we had to be a real team to beat anyone and we were there. That’s why I get a lot of experience from that time of life I lived in Manchester.’
You can listen to the rest of the interview from Monday evening here, as well as previous UTD Podcast episodes, via the Manchester United website, App and all your favourite podcast platforms.