As the Italian media starts the coverage of AC Milan’s clash against Manchester United in the Europa League, Gazzetta Dello Sport features a story on the early days of Bruno Fernandes.

The midfielder left Portugal in a move to Novara back in 2012. Mauro Borghetti tells the story, and he was in charge of the Serie A side’s academy back then.

The official credits Javier Ribalta, who was their chief scout at the time, for finding Bruno and telling the club to watch him in Portugal.

“At the time I was in charge of the youth sector, so I left Novara and I went to see him play. It was a Saturday afternoon,” Borghetti told Gazzetta Dello Sport.

“I remember personality and unscrupulousness. He played a normal game with older kids. Bruno is a ’94, the others ’93.

“I know there were other teams, but I don’t think they liked him. Maybe we were more reckless than others, who knows, so we bought him for 40 thousand euros.”

Embed from Getty Images

“He learned the language in two months. He had a room covered with post-it notes with the sentences in Italian, he walked around the room and repeated.

“I remember the first home match against Sampdoria’s Primavera. Nutmeg, outside kicks, back-heels, even a rabona. You always expected something exceptional, so much so that after six months among the youngsters he moved to the first team in Serie B.”

Bruno Fernandes only stayed at Novara for one year, as Udinese were quick signing him for €2.5m in 2013.

After three seasons at Udinese, the midfielder moved to Sampdoria, first on a loan, then on a permanent move for €6m. That year he joined Sporting for €9.7m.

It’s easy to see how his price grew over the years, but it was really when moving Manchester United that Bruno Fernandes was involved in a huge transfer, with the Red Devils spending €55m on his signing in January 2020.

Even though he’s now famous for scoring from penalties for the Red Devils, that wasn’t always one of his virtues: “Here he only shot one… and he got it wrong! Among other things, against Milan, in a friendly match won 6-1.”

Perhaps he’ll have the chance to get it right against the Rossoneri this time.