Five things you'll learn from Nani's podcast
Portuguese winger Nani is the latest ex-Red to star on UTD Podcast, with his episode available to listen to now on Deezer and all your favourite podcast platforms.
During a revealing and insightful hour-long chat, the 2008 Champions League winner told us how competitive it was living with compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo.
He also looked back on his controversial red card in 2013, against Real Madrid, in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final European game in charge and, if you’ve not listened to the funny story he had to tell about the boss, you’re missing out!
Here’s what else we discovered from listening to the pod…
HE WASN’T ALWAYS A SPORTING FAN
Of course, we signed the future Euro 2016 winner from Sporting Lisbon in 2007, and Nani has since returned to the Portuguese giants twice, first on loan for the 2014/15 season and then during 2017/18, when he captained the side and played with our current Portuguese magnifico Bruno Fernandes. But, whisper it quietly, Nani had brief dalliances with the country’s other two superclubs when he was a child.
“When I was a baby, they say, and I pretend it’s not true, my brother and my father they say it was Benfica [who I supported]. I say that is not true, because the Sporting fans they cannot hear that.
“My brother is a fanatical Porto fan. He convinced me one time in my life to be a Porto supporter, because Porto was winning every season. I remember, one day, Porto won the league and there were six guys, my brother was there, and they were singing, running up and down and saying Porto are champions and Benfica are horrible. My brother said, “Come on and sing Porto is the best. Look, everyone is happy! Come on! Porto is the best, come on, come on!” And I look at him and I say okay. I start singing with them. After I grew up and I had the opportunity to join the juniors of Sporting and, from there, I had my passion for Sporting.”
THE BACKFLIP WASN’T BANNED
Nani had one of the most recognisable celebrations of any Manchester United player. A keen practitioner of capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art, as a youngster, the Portuguese star would celebrate goals with a dizzying array of somersaults, although it was widely reported that Sir Alex Ferguson had banned any acrobatics shortly after Nani’s signing. Apparently, that was just a short-term measure though, to guard against injury.
“That was something in pre-season because I had pain in one of my feet and I scored my first goal in pre-season and then celebrated with a [backflip],” recalled Nani. “Another goal in the next game I scored, I didn’t do a backflip. People said: ‘Oh Sir Alex said Nani can’t do it anymore.’ It was not true. As soon as I was back in the Premier League,, scoring my first goal [against Tottenham], I was so excited and tried to do something different. Normally it’s just one backflip but, that day, I tried to do something more difficult. I did the flip first but I don’t know how you guys say the second bit!”
HE THOUGHT THE OTHER PLAYERS DISLIKED HIM
He arrived as a 20-year-old in 2007 to a squad full of winners, with United having just regained the Premier League title and experienced players such as Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs. Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville still in situ. At first, Nani thought the Reds’ elder statesmen disapproved of some of his more raw aspects of play, but he soon came to realise they were simply trying to push him to become a better footballer.
“It was so important for me to have Giggs, Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, because they were there every time, pushing me and saying things to me. I was not understanding what they were doing. I thought they didn’t like me. They would just, every time, go mad at me because things didn’t go well but they saw a lot of potential in me in training and were believing a lot in me. After two or three years, I started realising a lot. It’s one thing to listen but you try to do what they say.”
NANI’S CHRISTMAS PARTY RAP!
The Manchester United squads Nani was a part of were driven and desperate to win at all costs, which sometimes led to healthy disagreements among players, especially in training. But when Sir Alex allowed them to let their hair down, they made the most of it, including at one festive bash where Ferdinand encouraged the Portuguese attacker to get up and do a rap – in English!
“Yes, like I said we fought, we disagreed on the field but it was the strongest team I’ve been in. We knew the times to play together, to respect each other. When we had to enjoy it together as well. We used to do celebrations because we never had a day off, our boss was a very hard person. At Christmas or someone’s birthday, or Manchester United Foundation galas, that was our opportunities to be together, drink a beer and sing. I remember a great moment at a Christmas party where I remember Scholes singing, drinking his beer. Then I had to sing as well and improvise something. I think sometimes I can rap a little bit and Rio was pushing me a lot to do that. I was doing it in English, so imagine that. My English is horrible! They were laughing a lot, so it was a great moment.”
HE’S LOST TOUCH WITH ANDERSON
Our former Brazilian midfielder was signed in 2007, the same summer as Nani, and the pair hit it off straight away, becoming best friends and even moving in together, alongside Ronaldo. However, Nani isn’t sure what the recently retired Anderson, who left Old Trafford in 2015, is up to nowadays – although he’s certain it’ll involve sun, sea and sand!
“I don’t know about Anderson, I don’t know what he’s been doing for a long time,” Nani said. “I just saw some pictures on Instagram and he’s in Mauritius, in the islands. I don’t know, he’s always on the beach!”
To find Nani's edition of UTD Podcast and all previous episodes, head to manutd.com/podcast.