Creative Soccer Culture

Berna On United, Sancho And A Love For Cristiano Ronaldo

A lyricist with an incredible ability to portray and present his journey, Berna is a musician from East London who keeps football close. In West Ham territory, he has risen as a Manchester United fan having fallen in love with an Alex Ferguson era that propelled Cristiano Ronaldo to the top. Chatting the music, the movement and the highs and lows along the way, he's proudly showing off the freshly unveiled Manchester United third shirt from adidas.

Going back to the early memories, where did your love for football come from and where did it all start?

My mind probably goes back to the back garden and playing football there with my brothers. I’ve got loads of brothers and so football has always been a thing in my family. My mum had one of those goals set up in the garden and we would just be swinging them in. I feel like football has always been such a big thing for us. It was the first sport we as a family became attached too. My older brother wanted to become a footballer. He started playing from an early age and I guess seeing him play is what got me started. I loved it from then on.

Who were the idols you grew up watching as a kid?

Players like Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo when it was at Man Utd - he was my favourite player. Van Nisterlrooy too - that’s the era that drew me in. They’re legends now but it was that generation that made me a United fan.

Football has been something that while music is what you do, is still with you - it’s in your music videos and things like that…

Before I ever dreamt of being a rapper, I wanted to be a footballer. I always wanted to be a footballer. That was my main goal. I was playing football every time I could, I was going to trials all over the place and then music just came from nowhere. It was almost random. After my brother passed, I went through a stage of blocking out football. Music was a way of expressing myself and a way to build confidence back and it gave me an outlet.

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Losing a family member is a tragic experience to go through. Did it resent things in your mind and give you a new drive?

Yeah it did a lot. At the start, it was so hard. All those big dreams you have as a kid, I felt they just went. All those ambitions, it felt then like they were just not possible anymore. I would tell myself. “It’s just not happening for you”. Maybe if I stuck at football, who knows but there was so much heartache tied up and being in a depressed state takes you to dark places. It was a blessing and a curse though as it helped me find music. Music showed me that there’s something else I was good at and it gave me a new venture and a new life, a new path to explore.

When you think back to those long nights, playing football in a cage, what comes to mind?

Those are the best times. The best times of your life. I remember sweating in the cage. Everyone was putting their hearts into it all. I remember everyone doing slide tackles in the cage on concrete. That’s how much those games meant. So much passion. Football is such a passionate sport and when you love it, you don’t just love it a little bit, you love everything about it on a massive scale.

What was it like being a Man United fan, growing up in West Ham territory?

Yeah I’d get it all the time “Glory hunter, you’re just a glory hunter, you know nothing about football”. Especially from West Ham fans as well. I don’t know, it’s funny. I honestly feel that if Ronaldo had never joined Man United, I would have never supported that team. I was just such a big fan of him and his story. How he came from nothing to what he is now. He sparked something in the Premier League and he sparked it for me. I feel like that’s what made me cling on to Man United. Him and Alex Ferguson. I loved him. That’s where my bond with the team started. 

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It’s ok to say that. We grew up in a time where people would give you grief for supporting a team in a different city but if you fall in love with a team for a reason then why not is that a reason to support a team?

I feel like that’s as good a reason as any. Everyone around me was either a West Ham fan or a Chelsea fan or a Tottenham fan and for me, I just needed that connection and I wasn’t getting that from any other team. Man United felt right for me.

How would you describe what Manchester United are about and how they make you feel?

When I was growing up, they were such a powerful symbol within football itself. With Alex Ferguson, through to the team. You could see, as soon as they stepped onto the pitch that these were THE guys. They made me feel that way and proud to support them. If you supported Man Utd, you were THE guy and that’s what it felt like for me. I wanted to be THE guy. I needed the right team to support that reflected how I felt growing up and they were the one for me.

What about when you look to the future and think about football, who are those players you’ve got a lot of time for?

Mason Greenwood and Sancho for sure. I was gutted when he didn’t come to Man United. It is what it is but I was so ready and excited for that to happen. Rashford of course is another. I like Pogba a lot. There’s a lot in the United squad. I still love Ronaldo, I’ll always have so much time for him. I’ll always love him no matter where he goes.

Fast forward and you’re THE guys when it comes to putting out your own music. Was there a point when music did take over for you and you decided to pursue it?

I think it was literally from my first release. Up until then not much had happened. I was supposed to go to America to do a scholarship and play football. With my brother passing, I wasn’t really bothered anymore. I just got low. Then I started thinking about music and I dropped my first freestyle. The reception from that was crazy. In that moment, the dream of playing football went out of my head and music took the spot. With football you need to be at a certain level to get that recognition. Once I dropped my first freestyle, I had strangers coming up to me saying “woah, Berna, you’re hard”. I was just like “woah, this music thing is mad”. Coming up as a footballer you’re not going to get any reception like that until you get to a certain level. As an artist though, people believe in your journey much sooner. Getting that love early on and seeing the affect my music had on people, I instantly thought “I like this”.

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To make a football comparison of scoring a goal. How did it feel for you to start performing?

Yeah it was just like that. A mad buzz with everyone roaring. That’s the same thing. When I dropped that freestyle I was seeing it all pop off and it gave me a sense of the potential I had. Performing on stage is the scariest stuff I’ve done. I’m not sure if you can compare it to a debut match in football. Getting on that stage, everyone is looking at you thinking “who is this guy, and what are you about?” You’ve got the first 1-2 minute to make everyone like you and your presence is everything. Being someone who has never been in front of so many people and everyone is there waiting for you to do’s completely mad. You’ve just got to go for it. I love getting on the stage now. Now I’m getting that connection to fans, more and more people know you… you start to feel like the stage is your home ground like in football. I know what I’m doing as soon as I step on my pitch. I know how I’m going to connect with the fans and it becomes a second nature. I’m still only just beginning though so I’m just getting better and better and I still need to grow into the artist I want to become but I’m getting there.

What gave you your sound? What were you listening to at a young age?

I listened to everything but a lot of grime. Skepta, Ghetts, Chipmunk, Dizzee Rascal - all these people. As well as that, I loved American music. I was listening to a lot of Biggie, 50 cent. A lot of old school in there as well. I think in my music now, you can see that blend that came from the artists I was listening too. I feel like I can be gritty and grimey but at the same time I can do a lot of other things that you might not consider as a UK sound. The blend is what makes me.

It’s such a competitive industry, you have to stand out in your own way…

Yeah, 100%. By listening to a wide mix of music, you learn at the same time. You’d never think I listen to half of the tracks I do but even just like Adele and singers, alternative music too - all that stuff you get your own sound from.


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How would you describe the last few years since you started?

It’s been mad. It’s been full of ups and downs. I’m just getting to grips to everything. Meeting new people, different surroundings, forming the team around me of producers and people like that who I want to work with. It’s been mad but it’s been very fun.

What about where you’re going? 2020 has been mad but what does the next year ahead look like?

Bigger and better. Anything I’ve done now, it’s just going to be bigger and better. That’s what I want. Once I’ve dropped my EP and can establish who I am as an artist, my fans will know what I’m about and hopefully have a deeper connection with me too. 2021, I want to grow that fanbase and hopefully shows can start coming back and I can play some festivals. Over the last four years I’ve connected with so many artists and hopefully I can collaborate too. I just can’t wait to get my music out there. 

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Berna drops his PLRK EP on 2nd October.

Shop the full Manchester United 3rd collection at


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