Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo this week gave a pretty long interview to the Argentine media.
Speaking to Infobae, the player talked about his current situation with Estudiantes, the controversies from the national team, as well as some funny stories about his life with the Red Devils.
The first question was whether it’s harder to play in a street tournament for money or for Manchester United at Old Trafford.
“There is more pressure in the neighbourhood. The kids who are outside kill you if you lose. Playing with my friends is beautiful,” Rojo told Infobae.
“As soon as I returned to Argentina I had some days off because I didn’t play as a starter. I was training only. One Saturday my brother calls me and says there was a game. And I went for a little while. We laughed. It was nice to come back and meet them. Then the pressure is everywhere. Playing at Old Trafford has a nice pressure. It’s a big team. You always have to win.”
The defender was asked if he’s crazy for once pointing out to Zlatan Ibrahimovic that the striker has a big nose.
“You have to stand up later, ha. But imagine that as a boy I always played in the neighbourhood with bigger people. If you can’t stand it, if you don’t make yourself respected, they’ll pass you by. I was always like this. Off the pitch you know me, I’m a super calm person, I laugh all day. But on the pitch I don’t care about anything. If I have to annoy you, I annoy you. Whoever. And if I have to fight, also. Obviously it isn’t the best. But in football there were a thousand fights. Players like Zlatan have a terrific personality. He’s a winner. He gets at you because he wants to win. He knows that you can give more. I learned a lot from him. One of the biggest winners I saw.”
Asked to explain exactly what happened between him and Ibrahimovic, Rojo came up with the details.
“He wanted all the balls, you see. We were winning 1-0 at Old Trafford. We had the ball. We were giving them a dance, I was playing central defender. I come out playing, I pass half the pitch. There he pulls back. The pass between the lines was there. But there was Pogba alone on the left, so I gave it to him, and Paul began to showboat. Zlatan starts cursing me.”
At this point Rojo shared the specific insult, but we’re not going to repeat it here.
“I follow it. ‘Shut up, big nose. You want all the balls’. Arguing loudly. We finish the first half and go to the locker room. I’m in my place, taking off my boots. And he enters angrily, he kicks something. He stops, looks at me and yells at me: ‘What did you say to me?’
“So I also stop and say – ‘What did you say to me?’ – Although inside I was hoping someone would separate us, because he could have killed me. And the English, all big, separate us. Mourinho enters screaming, scrambling bottles. A mess in the locker room. Then it’s done, we win and go to the next round.
“The next day, early, I was having breakfast. I felt grabbed at the back of the neck, and I couldn’t turn. And he says – ‘What did you say to me?’ – and he started laughing. Anyway, thank goodness the karate move was a joke: I was already done, I’d never get out of it.”
The defender was also asked if it’s true that José Mourinho ordered him to take it easy on Alexis Sanchez following the Chilean player’s arrival at the club, given the pair had a history of tough battles on the pitch.
“Once, in January, we had gone for five days training in Dubai. When we returned, I remember that I was in the front seat in the bus. And he in the back, with an assistant. I was falling asleep. They touch my shoulder, I turn around and it was Mourinho. He shows me the phone, and there’s a message from a Manchester United director. He said that Alexis’s transfer to United was already confirmed. That when we arrived in England he would join the team.
“The theme with Alexis was that we fought every time we saw each other. Mourinho tells me: ‘Now you are not going to break him, he plays for us’. I used to hit everyone in training. And he’d laugh. He’s one of the coaches who like to get spicy in training. That the players go to the maximum. But later, with Alexis, the best. It was as if nothing had ever happened.”
Marcos Rojo was loaned by Manchester United to Estudiantes back in January, and his spell finished in June, but there’s been repeat claims that he could stay where he is.