Nani tells Inside United about his stunning form since the turn of the year, how he’s matured, and his footballing education on the streets of Portugal...
Was last season your best for United personally, even though it ended disappointingly for team?
Yes, it’s fair to say that. Last season was important for my confidence. I was pleased with how I played during the second half of the season and I want to keep improving each year.
You seemed to hit top form suddenly when you came back from injury in January. Was that a result of anything that happened on the pitch or in your life, maybe something somebody said, or did it just click together by coincidence?
I had a chat with the manager about things, but I knew myself that when I came back from injury I had to change something because I wanted to play, to improve and to show everyone what I can do. Once I got fit I worked hard every day in training and the manager saw that. He spoke with me and told me my chance would come and when he gave it me everything went from there.
Did you feel the support growing for you from the fans as you put in performance after performance?
It’s always nice to hear the fans get behind you and they gave me a lot of support last season which I am very grateful for. Their backing gives me even more confidence to go out and perform to my best in every game.
The manager has said he expects you to build on your efforts last season – do the high expectations he and other people have put extra pressure on you or is it something you enjoy?
He says that because he believes I can get better and that gives me great confidence. He knows I can do even better and so do I; I expect a lot from myself and I have to work hard to achieve that. I feel sharp and strong and I hope I can help the team enjoy many great moments this season.
How do you compare the Nani of now to the one who joined the club in 2007?
Now I’m a bit older I’m more experienced and I definitely have more confidence. This season is my fourth at the club and it really feels like this is my home now.
You said recently that when you first joined you were so excited to be playing with big stars – looking back were you slightly overawed by everything and did that affect progress initially?
It was just a big change for me. Of course, I was