One aspect a lot of people forget about Manchester United’s farcical purchase of Bebe in 2010 is that the player himself was barely a footballer at all. That’s not an insult or any comment on his talent.
It’s a comment about his lifestyle. Bebe was 20 years old when he made the move to Old Trafford from Vitória de Guimarães having only played in Portugal’s third division.
Rumours flew around about who Bebe was, with the story about him being homeless adding to the comical transfer. He wasn’t homeless but he spent a good portion of his upbringing in an orphanage.
As a truly wonderful article by the Daily Mail reveals today, Bebe was thrust into life at one of the biggest sports institutions in the world, living on £12,000-a-week after previously staying in a 15-bedroom dormitory.
‘Culture shock’ is an understatement.
Now on loan at Rayo Vallecano from Benfica, Bebe spoke about his struggles at United and how he coped with being one of the biggest jokes of the football world.
“I know what they say in England. “Ah, that Bebe, he cost £10m or whatever and he was a waste.” You have to understand that a lot of things had happened to me as a child. People don’t know what is going inside you as a person and within your environment. People labelled me in a certain way and it hurt. I was thrown into a situation but I was just a kid.
“It was hard because everything happened so quickly. I was young, I had no family or friends there. I didn’t speak English. I remember the first training session. I was really nervous. I walked out and there’s legends like Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney. I was desperate to impress them. They tried to help me. Nani and Anderson spoke Portuguese so they would pass on Ferguson’s messages to me in training. Patrice Evra and Chicharito were brilliant too because they speak Spanish, as I do. Evra is a special person, amazing for a dressing room.
“I was asking Ferguson if I could play. He told me to keep calm, that I was very young and that opportunities would arrive. I still learned a lot in training from him. I was developing tactically. Remember I had been training at a very low level so I had to learn many of the technical aspects of the game in terms of positioning, when to attack, when to hold back. But the best way to learn is to play so I lost a lot as well in that time because I played so little. I started against Wolves in the Capital One Cup and scored, I came off the bench in the Champions League, played well and scored. But I was getting five minutes here or there and it’s not enough. I felt I needed a proper chance to show my value.”
Trying to pick up the pieces of his career, he scored a wonderful free-kick against Sevilla recently and has aspirations of making Portugal’s Euro 2016 squad.
“I want to be remembered for my football. I wasn’t far away in 2014 for the World Cup and if I score the goals I need to do, it gives me a chance. At Rayo now, my aim is to score 10 goals this season and get into the national team for the Euros. I believe in myself.
“I am just a normal guy that has a dream. At home I’m very relaxed. I love the PlayStation and I improve my English by watching films. I love action stuff. Not James Bond though, I’ve never really got that. I love the black guy – Denzel Washington – he’s really cool.
“I am in a good place now. I am in touch with my family again, with my mother, grandmother and brothers. I have had a good start to the season and I love living in Madrid. I love playing in these famous stadiums against big players and what better place to demonstrate your value than against Barcelona.”
Read the full Daily Mail interview with Bebe here.