As the 2008 Champions League final approached the end of extra-time, Manchester United had to plan how they were going to set up for the penalty shoot-out. Ryan Giggs had apparently told Sir Alex Ferguson that “Ando is very good at penalties”, so on came the Brazilian.
Speaking to Andy Mitten for ESPN, Anderson has reflected on that evening, with him in tears when talking about scoring his sudden death penalty.
I came on the pitch and didn’t touch the ball before the game ended. It was straight to penalties and I was the sixth one. Ronaldo missed. The best guy missed! We all thought ‘shit!’ Tevez, Carrick, Hargreaves — great player — Nani. All scored. John Terry missed. If he’d scored Chelsea would have won. I was not thinking about him. It was me next. It was the longest walk towards that ball.
I started to think about my life. I had been born very poor. My life had been so hard. As I walked up, I thanked God for giving me everything. God told me that this penalty was like a sweet; a cake. It was my moment to be enjoyed. When God said this my nerves went away. I had pictures of my life in my mind. Very poor. No money. Fights with my mum. Sometimes nothing to eat. My father dying. Leaving home when I was 12. Gremio. Porto. I walked to the ball and crashed it. Cech is a big man with big hands. He touched the ball, but it went in.
When Anelka missed, I thought we had one more penalty. Then everyone started to run — we’d won — so I followed them. I have the picture. I jumped. Vidic jumped at the same time. His teeth went in my head by accident. Aaah, that hurt! But the celebration was amazing. The fans behind the goal. Crazy. And then the music from a Brazilian in the stadium. Gal Costa. I danced. Such a famous song in Brazil.
I saw Manuela, who was like my mother, and my girlfriend. They were crying. I drank until seven in the morning celebrating. I drank on the plane to Manchester and then went straight to Brazil. When I arrived I joked that I wanted to go straight to hospital and to take blood because I’d drunk so much. My Champions League medal is safe. And my four Premier League medals.