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Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha (born 17 November 1986), commonly known as Nani, is a Portuguesemarker football winger who plays for Englishmarker club Manchester United and the Portuguese national team.

Early life

Born in Praiamarker, Cape Verdemarker, Nani emigrated with his family to Portugalmarker at an early age. He was raised by his aunt Antonia in the Amadoramarker district of Lisbonmarker, where he and childhood friend, midfielder Manuel Fernandes, would often kick a ball about together.

Career

Early career

Nani grew up supporting Porto and played junior football alongside Ricardo Vaz Tê at Massamámarker youth club Real Sport Clube, before joining the youth squad of Sporting CP.

Sporting CP

Nani made his debut for Sporting in 2005–06, making 29 appearances and scoring four goals. In his second season, he had similar numbers with 29 appearances and five goals. He also played in six European games, scoring once.

Manchester United

Nani was sold to Manchester United for an undisclosed fee, thought to be around £14–17 million, five percent of which was paid to Real de Massamá. He passed his medical on 6 June 2007, and signed a five-year contract.

Nani scored on his debut in a pre-season friendly against Shenzhen Shangqingyin, in which United ran out 6–0 winners. He also scored in the following game against Guangzhou Pharmaceutical with a chip off the right post from the left side of the penalty area. Nani decided to set the record straight after reports suggested he had been banned by Alex Ferguson from doing his trademark somersault celebration for fear of injuring himself. "That is not true", he said. "Ferguson has never spoken to me about this subject and I am going to continue to celebrate goals in this way. The conversations he has had with me are normal conversations, like he has with all players".

Nani made his competitive debut for Manchester United on 5 August 2007, coming on as a substitute in the Community Shield against Chelsea. He marked his debut with a trophy after the Red Devils won 3–0 on penalties, following a 1–1 draw in normal time. This was followed up by Nani's third goal for the club three days later, when he scored against Glentoran.

Nani's Premier League debut came in United's opening match at home to Reading on 12 August as a substitute for Wayne Rooney, who had suffered a foot injury. On 26 August 2007, Nani scored his first competitive goal for Manchester United, scoring a 30-yard winner in the 69th minute against Tottenham Hotspur. Nani also set up crucial goals for Louis Saha and Nemanja Vidić allowing United to beat both Sunderland and Everton 1–0. He also scored with a stunning strike against Middlesbrough, which set the ball rolling to a 4–1 win. It was the first game in which it was thought that Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tévez showed the first real promise of forming a good strike partnership. He returned to his previous club, Sporting, in a Champions League tie in September, though it was team-mate and fellow former Sporting man Cristiano Ronaldo who stole the limelight by scoring the winner in a 1–0 win.

Nani playing for United in 2008
On 16 February 2008, Nani put in a man of the match performance against Arsenal in the FA Cup Fourth Round, his goal and two assists helping United to a 4–0 win over their rivals. During the match, Nani was involved in an altercation with Arsenal captain William Gallas who felt that the Portuguese was "showboating". After the match, Arsène Wenger was equally displeased, while Gilberto Silva said that Nani had a "big head".

On 23 March 2008, Nani set up the second and scored the final goal in a 3–0 victory over rivals Liverpool, in the 79th and 81st minutes respectively, after coming onto the pitch as a substitute.

On 3 May, towards the end of a 4–1 win over West Ham United, Nani was sent off for the first time in his Manchester United career for a headbutt on West Ham defender Lucas Neill.

On 21 May, Nani came on as a substitute for Wayne Rooney in the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final as United defeated Chelsea 6–5 on penalties following a 1–1 draw after extra time. Nani took and scored Manchester United's crucial fifth penalty in the shootout.

Nani scored his first goal of the 2008–09 season on 23 September 2008, scoring United's third goal in a 3–1 win over Middlesbrough in the last minute to secure passage to the Fourth Round of the Carling Cup. On 18 October, he scored from a Wayne Rooney assist to complete the 4–0 rout of West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford. On 20 January 2009, he opened the scoring for United in their 4–2 win at home to Derby County in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final.

Nani opened the scoring in the 10th minute of the 2009 FA Community Shield, but United eventually lost the match on penalties after a 2–2 draw. Nani suffered a dislocated shoulder during the match, which was originally expected to keep him out of the start of the season, but he recovered in time to play 17 minutes for Portugal against Liechtenstein on 12 August, and started the match against Birmingham City on 16 August. Although he provided the assist for Wayne Rooney's winning goal in the 34th minute, Nani was replaced by Ryan Giggs at half-time. With the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, there would be many wanting to take over free-kick duties and Nani put his mark down as first choice as he scored his first goal of the 2009–10 season from a free-kick against Wigan Athletic, scoring the final goal of a 5-0 away win.

International career

Nani was the youngest member of the Portugal U-21 squad at the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship. He made his first appearance for the senior Portuguese team on 1 September 2006, and marked his debut with a goal in Portugal's 4–2 friendly defeat against Denmark.

Nani was a regular member of the Portuguese squad in qualification for UEFA Euro 2008, and scored one of the goals in the 2–1 away win over Belgium on 2 June 2007. He also provided the assist for Ricardo Quaresma's goal in a friendly against Italy on 6 February 2008. Nani's form for Manchester United during the 2007–08 season ultimately earned him a call-up to Luiz Felipe Scolari's 23-man squad for Euro 2008, alongside club team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo. He was only used sparingly during the campaign, but did manage to provide the assist for Hélder Postiga's goal during a 15-minute cameo in the quarter-finals against Germany on 19 June 2008. Portugal eventually lost the match 3–2.

Celebration

Nani celebrates with a "mortal" or, in English, a "Leap of death", similar to that of Obafemi Martins and Lomana LuaLua. The celebration derives from Nani's background in capoeira, which he used to practice as a child. For a while, it was widely reported that United boss, Alex Ferguson, had banned Nani's celebration, fearing for his safety, although this was never supported by any direct quotes from Ferguson or Nani. Despite the supposed ban, Nani has continued to celebrate in this manner.

Career statistics

Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Sporting CP 2005–06 29 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 32 5
2006–07 29 5 0 0 6 1 0 0 35 6
Total 58 9 3 1 6 1 0 0 67 11
Manchester United 2007–08 26 3 2 1 1 0 11 0 1 0 41 4
2008–09 13 1 2 2 6 3 7 0 3 0 31 6
2009–10 8 1 0 0 1 0 3 0 1 1 13 2
Total 47 5 4 3 8 3 21 0 5 1 85 12
Career total 105 14 7 4 8 3 27 1 5 1 152 23


Statistics accurate as of match played 04 November 2009

Honours

Club

Sporting CP


Manchester United


References

  1. {{cite web |url=http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={B4CEE8FA-9A47-47BC-B069-3F7A2F35DB70}&newsid=432328 |title=Get to know... Nani |accessdate=22 April 2008 |first=Steve |last=Mills |date=1 June 2007 |work=ManUtd.com |publisher=Manchester United }}
  2. {{cite web |url=http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={FE60904B-C2A8-4E60-9B05-700DBBC29BBC}&section=playerProfile&teamid=458&bioid=92680 |title=17. Nani |accessdate=29 November 2008 |work=ManUtd.com |publisher=Manchester United }}
  3. {{cite news |first=Steve |last=Bartram |title=Reds complete triple signing |url=http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={B4CEE8FA-9A47-47BC-B069-3F7A2F35DB70}&newsid=440998 |work=ManUtd.com |publisher=Manchester United |date=2 July 2007 |accessdate=2 July 2007 }}
  4. {{cite news |first=Ben |last=Hibbs |title=Nani passes Reds medical |url=http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={B4CEE8FA-9A47-47BC-B069-3F7A2F35DB70}&newsid=433872 |work=ManUtd.com |publisher=Manchester United |date=6 June 2007 |accessdate=6 June 2007 }}
  5. {{cite news |first=David |last=McDonnell |title=Nani feels settled at United |url=http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={F9E570E6-407E-44BC-800F-4A3110258114}&newsid=465353 |work=ManUtd.com |publisher=Manchester United |date=23 August 2007 |accessdate=25 August 2007 }}
  6. {{cite news |first=Nick |last=Coppack |title=Report: Reds Lift Community Shield |url=http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={B4CEE8FA-9A47-47BC-B069-3F7A2F35DB70}&newsid=449978 |work=ManUtd.com |publisher=Manchester United |date=5 August 2007 |accessdate=26 August 2007 }}
  7. {{cite news |first=Steve |last=Bartram |title=Report: United 0 Reading 0 |url=http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={B4CEE8FA-9A47-47BC-B069-3F7A2F35DB70}&newsid=462736 |work=ManUtd.com |publisher=Manchester United |date=12 August 2007 |accessdate=26 August 2007 }}
  8. {{cite news |first=Steve |last=Bartram |title=Report: Sporting 0 United 1 |url=http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={B4CEE8FA-9A47-47BC-B069-3F7A2F35DB70}&newsid=472343 |work=ManUtd.com |publisher=Manchester United |date=19 September 2007 |accessdate=29 September 2007 }}
  9. {{cite news |first=Adam |last=Bostock |title=Report: United 3 Liverpool 0 |url=http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={B4CEE8FA-9A47-47BC-B069-3F7A2F35DB70}&newsid=543177 |work=ManUtd.com |publisher=Manchester United |date=23 March 2008 |accessdate=23 March 2008 }}
  10. {{cite news |first=Nick |last=Coppack |title=Nani returns for Portugal |url=http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={F9E570E6-407E-44BC-800F-4A3110258114}&newsid=6637752 |work=ManUtd.com |publisher=Manchester United |date=13 August 2009 |accessdate=13 August 2009 }}
  11. Includes other competitive competitions, including the FA Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, FIFA Club World Cup


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