The Republik of Mancunia teamed up with Nike last week in support of their Tear Up The Pitch event and got to spend some time with Manchester United winger Nani.
Nani had just been doing a photoshoot for Nike for the hour or so previous to our chat and probably the last thing he wanted to do was sit down with a fan. You don’t often see him in the press giving interviews so I was intrigued to see what he was all about. Having known little about him beforehand, it would be easy to assume that, being a young fella playing for Manchester United, he might be a bit arrogant. But he came across as very shy and even nervous. The longer we spoke, the more he opened up and relaxed he became, with him speaking much better English than I had imagined.
The fans appreciation of Nani is increasing and that is down to a change in attitude in the winger. His potential has always been there for us to see but now we are seeing a big change in his performances on the pitch. Last month, Nani acknowledged the change in himself, with him claiming he now understands what it means to be a United player.
So in Salford, with a load of questions from RoM readers, a conversation with Nani took place.
RoM: Before we start, I would just like to commend you on your great recent form. The fans have noticed a real turn around in your performances and that’s great to see. How do you feel now that you have claimed a place in our starting XI?
Nani: It makes me feel very proud. This is my job and I work hard every day. I’m playing well on the training ground and that’s why I play every week in the games. Of course, I am so happy with playing and I want to improve every week.
RoM: Some might say how well you play can be effected by which position you are playing, given that you are able to play on the left and the right wing. Antonio Valencia always plays on the right but is that a position you would prefer?
Nani: It doesn’t matter to me. I have to play on both sides and all I want to do is help my team to win.
RoM: Is there any particular aspect of your game you feel like you need to focus on improving?
Nani: I want to score more goals. We need more players to score goals because if you’ve got just one player scoring and he doesn’t score then that is bad for the team.
RoM: Michael Owen currently wears our number seven shirt and it is something associated with some of the best players to have ever played for United. Is this a shirt you would one day like to have?
Nani: I’m so happy with my shirt. I’ve got seven as well but I have two numbers! I am happy with my shirt number though, I think it brings me luck.
RoM: So you’ll stick it out with number seventeen for the rest of your United career then? How long do you see yourself staying at the club for?
Nani: I’m so happy at this club. Of course, when you play and everything is going right it makes you want to stay for many years. I want to become part of a history of this club.
RoM: Talking about the history of the club, is it something you are made aware of or take much interest in when signing for United?
Nani: Of course. I think the history of this club is very important. It can help players make the decision to come here. You hear a lot about the old players and people want to play for us to become like them.
RoM: Can you remember much about your first day at United?
Nani: I didn’t see a lot. I went for my medical tests and that was fine. It was very exciting though.
RoM: Which players are your closest friends at the club?
Nani: There are a few players I’m closer to but everyone gets on well and has a nice relationship with each other. We like to have a joke with each other and we’re a happy team. Every day we joke around with each other. We are very much together.
RoM: Are there any players in particular you would like to see United bring in this summer?
Nani: Just one player? It would be nice if the manager brought one friend from Sporting Lisbon. That would be fantastic for me. Maybe Miguel Veloso. He would be good.
RoM: Are you looking forward to the World Cup?
Nani: Very much.
RoM: Do you fancy your chances?
Nani: I don’t know if we’ll win but I have a lot of confidence that we’ll do well. We’ve got a very good team and players who can do something special for us.
RoM: And finally, do you think we’re going to win the league this year?
Nani: I really hope so, yeh.
RoM: Let’s keep it going with a win against Spurs, eh? Thanks for your time.
Nani came across as a genuinely nice guy. There was none of the flashy stuff where he was concerned. His ‘entourage’ consisted of his bird and a mate, he was happy to talk and was earnest in his answers.
Now, it doesn’t end there though with treats, because our friends at Nike have given me an iTouch to give away to a reader on RoM. But this isn’t just any iTouch, oh no, this has a special app pre-installed. Its the latest development of the Nike training app, that compliments the release of the new mercurial boot, that tests players speed. Users will get to train for speed with Theo Walcott, Nani, Fabiano, Robinho and Nilmar.
All you have to do is e-mail your full name, address and favourite Nani moment (with video – YouTube, DailyMotion etc.) to: Republik_of_Mancunia_competition@hotmail.co.uk