So Wayne Rooney is the last of the street footballers, is he? The wage slave apparently being held at Old Trafford against his will has frequently been described as such during his unhappy summer – even Roy Hodgson was at it last week – yet it turns out the England striker has a rival to the claim.

When the new season gets under way Rooney may not even be the most prominent street footballer in Manchester.

Manchester City have just spent £30m to bring Fernandinho in from the cold after eight seasons with Shakhtar Donetsk and, although the Brazilian midfielder is five months older than Rooney, his memories of playing football in the street are more recent and vivid. Rooney, after all, was on Everton's books from the age of nine and announced himself as a Premier League shooting star at 16. Fernandinho's back story is much more jumpers for goalposts, although even jumpers would have been a luxury.

"Some of my friends wanted to do different things but all I ever wanted to do was play outside with a ball," City's main summer signing said.

"We used flip-flops or bricks to mark the goalposts and that was it — we'd have our pitch on the street. My father and uncles all encouraged me to play football, every present I ever got would be boots, kit or a new ball, and that was just how I liked it. My son is just the same. He is only three but he has a shirt already and he sleeps with a ball."

Fernandinho's love of the game made his subsequent career much easier because, although he has made a more than comfortable living from football, some of the decisions along the way were not easy ones. He appears to have been professional and hard-headed about his future from day one.

"Since I was 13 years old I made sure I was going to training every day," he said. "I moved cities when I was 17 and I moved countries when I was 20. Every time I put football at the forefront and, if you do that, you don't have such a hard time settling in. Plus I have been lucky enough to work with some great people." The fact that Fernandinho waived a £4m signing on bonus to leave Donetsk and come to England makes it appear he was desperate to leave Ukraine, although eight stable and successful seasons suggest otherwise.

"I was happy in Ukraine, I won six titles, I knew everyone and was a big part of the club," he said. "If I only wanted money and a comfortable life from my career I would have stayed out there but I was presented with the challenge of coming to Manchester City and I was aware that over the last few years this is a project that has grown a lot. I have come here to win.

"Of course I will be paid as a professional footballer but the only thing I am greedy for is success. I missed out on £4m but I got the move I wanted. Maybe England should have more players who don't only think of money." Fernandinho's motives in coming to England may not have been entirely altruistic. This is a World Cup season after all and his relative obscurity in the well-appointed but undeniably remote Donbass Arena has been a factor in him making only five appearances for Brazil.

Most people think he is one of the best defensive midfielders to come from that country, good enough to attract the interest of Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham in recent years, but not even Shakhtar's Champions League exploits last season were enough to win consideration for this summer's Confederations Cup. Fernandinho may attract more attention playing in England, especially as his near namesake Fernando has just taken his place at Donetsk.

"In Brazil it is well-known that it is very difficult for a player with a club in Ukraine to get into the national team," he said. "I have been called up a few times but then nothing happened. I decided that I had to leave Ukraine to play in a stronger league that would help me get the attention of the people in charge of Brazil. I will try to do my best because it would be great to play in a World Cup, especially at home."

City's last Brazilian buy from Shakhtar, Elano, lasted only three seasons in the Ukraine and said he found it tough because of the weather – in Donetsk, that is, not Manchester.

For Fernandinho to stick it out for eight years says much about his attitude, even if he too found the winters hard to cope with. "I didn't go there for the weather, I went to work hard and achieve things," he said. "It is what I have to do everywhere I go. There were times when things got a little desperate, though. I found myself missing meat from a barbecue. I love that back home and it had been so long.

"So I decided to buy an electric grill but it was so cold I couldn't do it outside. The only place I could have a barbecue was in the garage. I moved the cars out and put the central heating on and it was quite nice actually."

Elano was not a great success at City and nor was Robinho, so Fernandinho understands that simply being Brazilian is no automatic passport to achievement in England. "A lot of Brazilians have played in the Premier League, with mixed results," he added.

"I have even heard that English teams are fearful of signing players straight from Brazil because England has a unique football style that Brazilians struggle to understand.

"Maybe there is some truth in that but from what I can see I believe the way I play will suit the English style. I like to have the ball at my feet a lot and to score goals but I know that marking and tackling are just as important. I actually think one of my biggest qualities is consistency. I don't have a fantastic game one week and a bad game the next. What I offer is more balanced, I tend to play at the same level all the time."

City buying consistency. Whatever next? We shall soon know, beginning with Monday's opening fixture against Newcastle United, but it seems Manuel Pellegrini is making an effort to draw a line under the strops and sulks that characterised his predecessor's reign and build a team of diligent workers.

And the emphasis is on team. It might be an idea borrowed from United but few would deem it a bad one.