The pupils believed they were having a live video chat with Herrera from the Aon Training Complex, however unbeknown to the language students, the United ace was hiding mere metres away. After a few minutes, ‘technical issues’ disrupted the video call and the class was left speechless as Herrera bounced through their classroom door unannounced.
Once the pupils had overcome the shock and surprise, Herrera conducted a question and answer session in his native language, fielding questions about his footballing career, his journey from Real Zaragoza to Manchester United and his view on the Messi versus Ronaldo debate.
The United midfielder also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to drop into a PE lesson where he joined some small-sided games with budding young footballers.
Amil, who was one of the pupils taking part in the Spanish class, said, “I felt shocked and excited because this was a one-off opportunity to meet Ander. We learned about his experiences, what he’s been through and how he came to his position now as a famous footballer.”
He added, “I was inspired by Ander’s visit. It’s nice to learn about different cultures and languages because it can change you and make you a better person.”
Herrera, who regularly gets involved with Manchester United Foundation projects, also felt good about the positive impact of his visit. He said, “Football can really help people and we [as players] make the effort to come and take part in these activities that the Foundation is doing. I have been very impressed with their questions.”
He continued, “At 13, 14 years old there can be a lot of different temptations and things you can do. I remember my Mum saying if you don’t study then you don’t go to training. I wasn’t a brilliant student, but I was a good student and I passed all my exams. Football can be a big motivation for kids to study and help make them better human beings.”
Manchester Academy is one of 20 Foundation partner schools across Greater Manchester, at which a dedicated Foundation coach is based full-time to mentor pupils with the aim of developing confidence and leadership skills.