Nemanja Matic was sold to Benfica from Chelsea when he was 23-years-old. He had only played two games for the west London club before leaving for Portugal to play for Jorge Jesus, who now manages Sporting. Jesus converted Matic from a playmaker in to a defensive midfielder.
Ahead of Manchester United’s Champions League game against Benfica tonight, Matic has reflected on the impact Benfica made on his career.
When I first came to Benfica, the manager Jorge Jesus told me on my first day I would be playing as a no.6 or as a defensive midfielder. At the beginning, it was strange for me because I didn’t know I could play that position but, slowly, I trained with the team and the manager explained to me how to do it. And after a lot of hard work, now, I’m at Manchester United, so I must have done the job well!
Matic spent three years at Benfica, making 99 appearances in all competitions, and has revealed he will always have a soft spot for the Portuguese club. However, he obviously hopes that United are on the winning side this evening.
It’s a special club, a club that I love. At Benfica, I learnt a lot about football and about the pressure of playing for a big club, because they are one of the best clubs in Europe. I will support them for the rest of my life and they will have a special place in my heart but, in the Champions League, I hope we can take points from them.