ANDREAS PEREIRA was just 15 when Sir Alex Ferguson showed up and persuaded him to ‘drop everything’ and move to England.
Despite that vote of confidence from one of football’s greatest managers, it has taken more than a decade for the Brazilian playmaker to become an established Premier League star.
Pereira, 27, is one of a number of Fulham players to prove a point to former employers since leaving Manchester United last summer after a string of loan moves and a series of frustrations that saw him ‘underestimate’ himself at Old Trafford felt, finally left.
But if Fulham beat Tottenham at Craven Cottage tonight, Marco Silva’s group of underdogs will replace their opponents in fifth place.
It turns out that Fergie could spot one player and that the big man had his eye on him when he arrived at PSV Eindhoven’s training ground in 2011 and secured Pereira’s signature.
Although Pereira – who is now fluent in six languages - admits he struggled to understand Ferguson’s thick Glasgow accent.
Pereira recalled: “I wasn’t sure I was going to join United but when I spoke to Sir Alex I just wanted to put everything behind me and go there.
“I knew he was one of the best managers in the world, that he had been there for a very long time and that he won everything.
“Having him come by in person had a huge impact on me and my dad.
“As soon as we met him it was like something extraterrestrial, we just saw him on TV. . .
HOW TO GET FREE BETS ON SOCCER
“I didn’t catch the first few words he said to me because of his accent – but I’ll never forget the impression he made.”
Pereira’s father Marcos was a Brazilian center forward who played top-flight football in Belgium, where his son was born and raised.
The Fulham star said: “Seeing dad was an inspiration. I wanted to be like him.
“He always told me he was a better player than me – he still does – but now I can tell him I’m better.”
In over a decade at United, Pereira has never found a regular starting place.
He has dazzled frequently in preseason, only to suffer from a lack of opportunities after the season has started.
So he went to Valencia and Granada in Spain, Lazio in Serie A and Flamengo in Brazil, the country for which he has a senior cap.
Speaking of his time at United, Pereira said: “A player needs confidence. It’s difficult when a club buys so many players and when you come from youth you might not get that much recognition – I felt that.
“So I wanted to prove in Fulham that I can play at the highest level every week and make a difference.”
During the 2019-2020 season, Pereira made 25 appearances in the Premier League for United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.