Manchester United winger Nani transformed from self-centred show pony to trophy hunter

19 March 2010 07:06
The 24 year-old appeared to have committed the cardinal sin at United of publicly challenging Sir Alex Ferguson's authority when he criticised his manager for "breaking my confidence" in an interview with a Portuguese magazine last November.

A period out of the team was the result of Nani voicing his frustrations and, with injury then restricting his availability, combined with the emergence of Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan, his days at United seemed numbered.

But Nani has enjoyed a renaissance in recent weeks. His confidence has returned and Old Trafford no longer rings out to groans when he receives the ball with his luminous yellow boots.

He is now realising the potential that prompted Ferguson to invest £17 million in his talents three years ago and, finally, as assistant manager Mike Phelan suggested last month, the penny has dropped.

Nani said: "When you come to Manchester United, you have to learn about what it means and what it takes to succeed here.

"A couple of years ago, I was only thinking about playing for myself and just playing to enjoy my football.

"But now, I know that I can't play like that because it is all about winning trophies for the team rather than individual success.

"At United, you have to play together, you have to think together, you have to do everything together. I have learned a lot about that and that's why I have changed.

"This club is good at making players grow up and learn to be a man, to be a player.

"That happened to me a couple of months ago, when I began to think more about the team and what it means to play for United. Now, I'm feeling very happy and strong."

Juventus were keen to lure Nani away from United in January and the Italians are expected to follow up their interest in the player in the summer.

The prospects of Ferguson allowing Nani to leave, however, are receding with each game. He is expected to start for the fourth successive game against Liverpool ton Sunday and the former Sporting Lisbon youngster admits he has no desire to leave Old Trafford.

Nani, speaking at the launch of United's partnership with Turkish Airlines, said: "This is my third year here and I believe I am doing well now. I want to do more and more and show that I am deserving of my place at this club.

"Did I want to leave? No, I never thought like that. I have always been strong in my head and confident in my ability as a player and I have always had confidence about being a United player, ever since I came to the club."

The shyness that Ferguson claimed was a factor in Nani's delayed progress is no longer an issue in the player's mind.

He said: "I don't think I'm a shy person. Maybe I am shy with the manager because I respect him a lot."

Source: Telegraph