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|Birthday||November 17, 1986|
It seemed as if this speedy winger was destined to be heading out of Manchester United after quotes attributed to him suggested he had criticised Old Trafford boss Sir Alex Ferguson early in the 2009-10 season, yet Nani bounced back from that episode to turn in some fine displays for club and country.
Speedy and unpredictable, the lack of clarity in his game may be one of his best qualities. It often seems as if Nani is not sure what he will do next and if that is the case, his opponent has little hope of second guessing him. Trying to fill Cristiano Ronaldo’s boots at United has proved impossible, but he had a good try in the second half of the 2009-10 Premier League season, with a memorable performance against Arsenal the highlight of his best campaign yet for United.
His two goals in the Champions League quarter-finals against Bayern Munich in April 2010 appeared to crown the revival in his fortunes at United, only for the German side to stun Old Trafford with two dramatic away goals to dump the 2008 European champions out of the competition.
The tricky winger continued to improve in 2010-11, particularly when the creative pressure rested firmly on his shoulders following Antonio Valencia’s ankle break kept him out for six months. Nani contributed more assists (18) than anyone else in the Premier League last season and started the 2011-12 campaign with a blistering brace against Manchester City in the Community Shield.
Strengths: On top form, the Portuguese winger can be a nightmare for defenders. A bundle of pace and trickery, his ability to create and score spectacular goals makes him an important attacking outlet.
Weaknesses: Defensively weak and still too often wasteful in possession, needs to understand that sometimes the simple pass or cross will do.
Career high: A 30-yard winner against Spurs in 2007 was his first goal for the club and lives long in the memory, but his performance against Arsenal at the Emirates in January 2010 was one of the best displays of individual attacking flair of the season.
Career low: Being ruled out of the 2010 World Cup with a shoulder injury three days before the opening match of the tournament.
Style: Pacy, skilful, creative; Nani is a devastatingly explosive winger with the ability to produce moments of magic.
Quotes: “Nani’s got the potential to do what he wants. He’s one of the sharpest players around, has a great strike with both feet – he’s got the potential to be a top, top player.” Rio Ferdinand praises his team-mate in May 2010..
Trivia: After coming on as a substitute for Wayne Rooney in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final, Nani scored Manchester United’s crucial fifth penalty in the shoot-out.