Having evolved into an integral component of United's attacking arsenal, Nani is central to Sir Alex Ferguson's plans for the future. The Portuguese winger spoke to Inside United for October's issue, discussing his standing in the dressing room, his personal ambitions and his chances of emulating Ryan Giggs' longevity...
There’s no mistaking the change in Nani. The nervous teenager who arrived at Old Trafford in 2007 mumbling answers through an interpreter is gone; in his place is a young man brimming with confidence, joviality and, most strikingly, conducting himself entirely in United’s native tongue.
The Portuguese winger’s sustained brilliance in 2010/11 bagged the players’ player of the year award last May, and that accolade marks a clear change in his standing within the Reds’ ranks. Moreover, it has sent his confidence skyrocketing.
“It was very important for me inside the dressing room, with my team-mates,” he grins. “It showed me that now everyone knows my position inside, on the team and how important I am in the team, how much responsibility I have for the team and the club as well. That’s making me more confident, making me happier, making me want more responsibility. Now I’m in the right position to do everything I wanted in the past. I have arrived in the position I want - respect – in the last two seasons.
“Last year was my best year, definitely my most consistent season. Now I hope this is my year. I will do my best. If I am fit for every game, I am 100 percent sure I will do my best and will do well for my team. This is a big chance to show I can do much more, that I’m a good player with a very strong mentality. I always work hard to be successful help my team to win titles.”
In a summer of change which has largely ushered in youth in the stead of experience, Nani has undergone a promotion to a position of greater responsibility within the team. It’s clear he appreciates the added pressure.
“It’s true,” he laughs. “I’m one of the old players now! This is my fifth season here and yes, five years is enough to learn everything about this club. I’ve been in the most important moments of this club in the last few years and it’s great, the life I’ve had here.” When fronted with the suggestion that he could emulate Ryan Giggs and be a part of the Carrington furniture well into his 30s, the winger laughs again.