Adnan Januzaj: Former Manchester Untied star on life after leaving Premier League

What was his first tournament start Manchester United, the diminutive youngster scored twice in an impressive comeback against Sunderland – his second stunning left-footed volley.

It was an exceptional performance that got fans excited and hopeful that the club unearthed yet another big talent in the game.

For the player himself, it kicked off a promising breakout season for the then 18-year-old; Januzaj has scored four goals in 27 appearances in a team struggling to find identity under the post-Alex Ferguson era.

His fine form, cunning and spectacular searching eye paid off with a bumper five-year deal but things quickly began to change.

United sacked David Moyes – whom Januzaj greatly appreciated as a coach and personally – in 2014 and new coach Louis Van Gaal began to use the youngster less.

Loans at Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland did little to enhance his reputation at the club, and he was eventually sold to Real Sociedad by United manager Jose Mourinho in 2017.

“It’s a big difference,” says Januzaj, 26 CNN Sport when asked about the player he has today compared to the one who left the Premier League four years ago.

“Over the last few years, I’ve learned a lot – the good, the bad, everything.

“Good things, I keep doing. My talent will never, never go away.”

Adnan Januzaj scored his second Manchester United goal against Sunderland in 2013.

A move to Real Sociedad in Spain’s La Liga helped Januzaj get his career back on track.

A key player for his current side, the striker has helped Sociedad get off to a great start to the season, with the club currently third at the top of the league earlier in the year.

He also made 13 appearances for the Belgian national team and thanks to guidance from the coaches at his new club, he has learned to better deal with the mental side of the game.

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“When I’m not playing a game, I get really nervous and just want to play,” he said.

“Even if something goes wrong […] you always have to try and stay steady. For a football player, it is very important to keep stability in mind.

“It was a change in my head, when I’m not playing, I’m calm. If the manager needs me to come out and make a difference, I’ll come and make a difference.”

Januzaj says that he currently loves life in Spain and thinks his game is better suited to a more technical style of play.

“Perhaps God brought me here,” he said, adding that he has more license to show off his skills.

He also appreciates the unique position of a player at Real Sociedad, a club dripping in history and nostalgia.

Until the 1980s, only players from the Basque Country could play for the team and although that policy has since been abolished, the connection with the fans remains as strong as ever.

“You feel it, you can feel the colors, you feel the people, you feel that this is their dream,” Januzaj added of playing in the area.

“If you’re on the team, you feel it because obviously from a young age it’s the team you’ve loved.”

Januzaj celebrates scoring for Real Sociedad in November 2021.

Performances again this season have proven how stable and comfortable Januzaj is at Sociedad, which has allowed him to thrive once again.

He may not be the kid-faced trickster he used to be – he’s only scored one La Liga goal so far this season – but he’s matured into a reliable and stable player. more determined.

He says things would be different if he returned to one of Europe’s biggest clubs but insists he is very happy with where he is now.

It was somewhat of a happy ending for a shrewd young player who made many sacrifices as a child and who, at one point, seemed to be sliding into obscurity football.

“When I was 15, it was clear that I left my country, came to play in England and I made a lot of sacrifices,” he said.

“I left everything in Belgium, schools, many things, my parents too, so it was very difficult. It was a big sacrifice.

“At the end of the day, we work really hard and we have to. Sometimes in the morning you wake up and you feel ‘Ahh, I have training,’ but you have to do it.”

At 26, Januzaj knew he had a lot to offer in the game and he was finally in a place that allowed him the platform to perform.


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