Manuel Fernandes has admitted forcing Benfica to leave in 2007 to play for Everton, missing a Reds Champions League game and training illegally for a week at the Liverpool club.
“People inside Everton know that. I trained for a week at Everton when I shouldn’t have been there. I was a Benfica player and I was no longer on loan at Everton and the club could have had big problems,” revealed the 36-year-old midfielder in an interview with Osbructed View, a portal dedicated to the English club.
“I went against my club to make the deal happen. Benfica was the club where I made my debut, the club that made me a professional, where I’ve been since I was eight years old and to whom I owe everything, but I went against the club because I wanted to play for Everton,” he said.
In 2006/07, Manuel Fernandes was loaned out to Everton for the second half of the season, having played at Portmouth for the first six months, also on loan from Benfica. At the end of the season, he was due to return to Benfica, but not only did he express a desire to return to the Blues, but, he revealed, he even stretched the rope by missing a match for European competitions after having discussed with David Moyes. , then manager of Everton.
“Benfica were going to play the qualifying round for the Champions League [n.d.r.: eliminatória com o Copenhaga] and Fernando Santos didn’t want me to leave and wanted me to be in this game. David Moyes called me and said: ‘If you play this game for Benfica, I won’t be able to sign you up for UEFA. And you will be important for us in Europe”. And I missed that game. It was a big problem and they weren’t happy at Benfica. I was well aware that I wanted to return to Everton, so I had to force the situation.
This is where Manuel Fernandes was training that week at Everton, albeit without any connection to the English side. “I came back to Everton and was training with the team when I was a Benfica player. We had to keep it a secret, because obviously it wasn’t allowed. They even closed practice so no one would know I was there. I stayed there until the end of August, waiting for the situation to be resolved,” he reports.
Manuel Fernandes, who admitted to having been contacted at the time by telephone by Sven Goran Eriksson to go to Manchester City, ended up going not to Liverpool, but to Valencia, and in short, in exchange for 18 million euros, but only with half of them entering the vaults of SAD incarnate. Six months later, curiously, the then 22-year-old midfielder ended up on loan from the Spanish icon at Everton.