Among the giants of the Premier League, he sometimes has something of a little Tom Thumb. Because of Bruno Fernandes’ stature and relaxed presence it is maybe understandable that his capabilities have been somewhat underestimated at the beginning. ‘What a waste of money’, the supporters of the opponents of Wolverhampton Wanderers chant when he misses a few chances during his debut game. That skeptics have retreated. After a somewhat disappointing performance at the Euros Fernandes has started this season where he left of last: being involved in more goals than any Manchester teammate. In the first match of the season Fernandes scored a hattrick and was happy to take the match ball home to his kids.
Bruno Fernandes made the switch from the Wolves to Manchester United in the winter break of 2020. In clander year that followed, the Portuguese was voted the best player in the Premier League four times, no player has ever acheived this before. Fernandes is also one of the standout players in last season’s statistics. No other player has put his teammates in scoring positions so favorably and well. Kevin de Bruyne did slightly better per game at that point, but he played less. On top of that, Fernandes himself also scored 18 goals in 37 games. In terms of goal involvements only Harry Kane did better last season with 23 goals and 14 assits topping Bruno Fernandes’ 18 goals plus 12 assits.
Fernandes has never doubted his own success. ‘I’m going to play for Real Madrid later’, he kept telling teammates at the various clubs where he played. With his neat beard, Fernandes has something of a catholic father these days, but he is streetwise. At his first club Boavista he stole balls during away games. When the Fernandes family moved to Switzerland for a better future, Bruno didn’t want to join them. He stayed behind in Portugal with his mother to make the most of his football career.
At the age of seventeen, Fernandes leaves for another country, but on his own. The Italian third division team Novara pays several tens of thousands of euros for him. The Boavista club director says he still regrets to have let him go, in hindsight.
Fernandes is promised a salary of 1,000 euros a month in Italy, but initially he gets nothing and has to live on the fifty dollars that his mother provided him with for the trip, he told the Portuguese magazine Record in an interview. No one at Novara speaks Portuguese. And Fernandes does not give away the ball during training sessions. His teammates yell at him that he should start passing, but Bruno goes his own way. After a few victories in the Italian Serie B, his teammates understand that it is indeed in everyone’s interest that he does so.
Bigger Italian clubs are lining up and Fernandes continues his career with Udinese and then Sampdoria. At these Italian clubs, Fernandes is superior in the small space during training, but during matches he does not really stand out yet. In 2017 he returns to Portugal to play for Sporting Lisbon and matures to be the goals and assists machine that he currently is.