Angel Gomes has explained that he left Manchester United to join Lille in the summer because he longed for “happiness” in his football career.
The winger was rarely used under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford, so when his contract expired he left the club for France.
Lille transferred him to Boavista on loan and, since moving to Portugal, he has played regularly and has won critical acclaim for his performances.
While he admits that leaving United, a club he has been with for 14 years, was difficult, he says it was a necessary step in his personal development.
“It’s such a special club, but I just wanted to be able to play and express myself,” he told The Independent.
“They offered me a great contract, I had all my family and friends around me, but I decided that I was willing to sacrifice it to follow a different path. It’s hard to understand how difficult that decision was.
“I’m still a United fan. Now I still watch all the games, be it the first team or the U18s. I could have stayed on and given up, but I felt like I needed a fresh start. “
He says it was Lille’s sports director, Luis Campos, who prompted him to move to France.
“We talked for a couple of hours, he knew me inside out as a player and he showed me his plan. It was exactly what I needed to hear, ”says Gomes. “In the first year, he wanted me to go to Boavista, it would be a clean slate and I spoke with the manager there and I loved his ideas.
“I didn’t see it as a step back, I saw it as my opportunity to move on. I didn’t want to go anywhere and have that young label. I wanted to play 90 minutes, have an important role and show what I can do ”.
Although Boavista is having a difficult season, it is a challenge that he is enjoying.
“It’s actually quite refreshing,” he says. “A year ago, I never would have thought I’d be in this position, but I’m really enjoying it. The coach just wants me to be always alert and involved in the game and that’s perfect for me. I am ambitious and I am excited for what awaits me, to continue as I started and return to Lille full of confidence ”.
Gomes made his Man Utd debut at age 16, but was unable to kick and secure a regular first-team spot. He admits it was difficult to hold his head up when he wasn’t playing as much as he wanted to at Old Trafford.
“Football is like a roller coaster and I went through a lot of ups and downs,” Gomes said. “I had the right people around me and I stood my ground, but when you hit a few lows, you start to build up. It can be difficult to show your emotions and you should keep giving your all in training. [even though you’re not playing].
“But when you go home, deep down you know that you are not the same as always. I am usually very happy and your family notices those little changes in you. I wanted to go back to where I was and find happiness in my football ”.