Angel Gomes on his Manchester United debut: “I was saying to myself, this isn’t real.”

In an interview published in today’s L’Équipe, Lille midfielder Angel Gomes notably spoke about the day he made his debut for his formative club Manchester United, back in 2017.

The 22-year-old played with the Red Devils until 2020, making ten appearances in all competitions until leaving for the Ligue 1 side. After an impressive loan spell at Boavista after his first season, Gomes went on to become a regular fixture in Les Dogues’ first team, making 24 appearances last season and playing in all but one league match under Paulo Fonseca this year.

The midfielder recalled having a sleepless night before the match that saw him become Manchester United’s youngest appearance-maker since Duncan Edwards in 1953, and the first player born in the 2000s to appear in the English top flight:

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“The night before, José Mourinho told us that we wouldn’t be sidelined because it was the final day of the season. I stayed at home and I remember not being able to sleep… I had visions in my head, of scoring and celebrating. During the evening, Jesse Lingard calls me and says “I’m coming to pick you up tomorrow, so be ready”. I’d trained two or three days with the players and I knew some of them before, because I’d lived with Marcus Rashford and because Lingard had the same age as my brother. He came to get me, I got into his car, his nice car… While he was driving I was saying to myself, “This isn’t real”.”

“And then Mourinho named the starters and the bench, and I was on the bench. That’s when I said to myself, this time it’s for real. When I was warming up, all the fans cheered for me. I came on and Michael Carrick did everything he could for me to get the ball. Every time he had it, I could see he was looking for me. It was incredible.”

Gomes also recalls playing under José Mourinho – who was manager from 2016 to 2018 – and speaks of a coach unlike any other:

“Mourinho was a character. But a really, really good guy. Sometimes, what you might see… But on the inside, he’s very nice. With me, who was young, 16-17 years old, he was nice. But I also saw his other side. One time, he yelled at me in front of everyone. At the time, I didn’t know what to do. But all the players said to me: he wants a reaction from you, that’s how he works. Now that I’m a bit older, I see it as a lesson. I’m happy he did that.”

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