Sunday 9 December 2018

'I saw Leo Messi cry' - Alexis Sanchez opens up on his rise to the top and his pride at being Man United's new No.7

Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez and (inset) with Messi at Barcelona
Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez and (inset) with Messi at Barcelona
Alexis Sanchez of Manchester United
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Alexis Sanchez has offered up an emotional reflection of his rise to the top of the world game, as he revealed the sacrifice and disappointment he has experienced over the course of his career.

In an interview with Thierry Henry for Sky Sports, Sanchez opened up on his childhood in Chile and how his success and wealth has led to accusations that he has changed his persona since his move to European football.

"During my childhood, my dream was the same as yours: to be a footballer and to play with the best," Sanchez told Henry. "Sometimes in South America that can be harder than here in Europe, because we dream of coming to Europe.

"Maybe I'd be working in the region where I'm from, doing other things. I think football saves many people. It can give you a life of luxury, but people don't see all the effort that goes in behind the scenes.

"That might mean not seeing your family, or missing your mother's birthday, many players are so focused that they miss the birth of their children, but I love football and that's what I do. I enjoy myself and I'm just trying to be happy."

Sanchez also looked back on the big disappointments in his career, with the 2012 Champions League semi-final defeat against Chelsea when he was at Barcelona at the forefront of his mind.

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"You might cry during a game if you lose a final," he continued. "That's all part of football. In the Barcelona dressing room after the Chelsea game, I saw Leo (Messi) cry. That's because players demand so much from themselves. People don't see that.

"Sometimes people say things such as: "He's got too big for his boots" Or say: "he's changed". You buy a flash car and people say that you're a show-off. I've learnt so much over time and with the experience that I've gained. You can't please everyone.

"There'll always be one or two who get angry. I've learnt so much from playing football."

He also spoke of his pride after being handed the iconic Manchester United No.7 shirt following his move from Arsenal last month.

"I think that Manchester United… since I was young - and I'm not just saying this because I'm here I'm an honest guy and I never lie - I think it's the biggest club in England. That's what I think," he added.

"There are lots of big clubs, and having played for Arsenal, they are also one of them.

It's a huge club and I was there, but coming here, looking at the badge. I'm so proud to wear the No 7 shirt.

"And I know many people say there's added pressure linked to that or it might work against you, but I simply enjoy my football whether I'm No 10 or 9. Or any other number. Or even 14 or 12!"

The full interview with Alexis Sanchez will be screen on Sky Sports on Sunday afternoon.

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