Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha born 17 November 1986, commonly known as Nani, is a Portuguese footballer who plays as a winger for English side Manchester United and the Portugal national team.
Nani began his career with Cristiano Ronaldo, joining the youth team in 2003 before making his first-team debut in 2005. During his two-year tenure in Portugal, Nani won only one trophy: the Portuguese Cup in the 2006–07 season. Before the 2007–08 season, Nani's performances attracted the attention of Manchester United, who eventually secured his services in July 2007. He gained first-team status almost immediately and has since won the Premier League twice, the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League, and the League Cup in the 2008–09 Season.
Nani made his Portugal debut in 2006, scoring his first goal in the process, and has since established himself as a key member for them. He was heavily featured during Euro 2008 and throughout the 2010 World Cup qualification process.
* 1 Early life
* 2 Club career
o 2.1 Early career
o 2.2 Sporting CP
o 2.3 Manchester United
+ 2.3.1 Early years
+ 2.3.2 Breakthrough
+ 2.3.3 2010–11
* 3 International career
o 3.1 International goals
* 4 Career statistics
o 4.1 International
* 5 Honours
o 5.1 Club
o 5.2 Individual
* 6 Celebration
* 7 References
* 8 External links
Born in Praia, Cape Verde, Nani emigrated with his family to Portugal at an early age. He was raised by his aunt Antonia in the Amadora district of Lisbon, where he and childhood friend, midfielder Manuel Fernandes, would often kick a ball about together. He was given the name Nani as a baby by his siter.
Nani grew up supporting Sporting CP and played junior football alongside Ricardo Vaz Tê at Queluz youth club Real Sport Clube, before joining the youth squad of Sporting CP.
According to the former coach of the Real Sport Clube junior team, a quick friendship was formed between Vaz Té and Nani but their dislike of losing became a complication in training. The two got into a fight during a training session which resulted in the two having to be separated and be punished for a week which resulted in neither playing the following Sunday. While Vaz Té came to practice for that week, Nani did not appear.
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.
Nani was sold to Manchester United for €25.5 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 a month later, joining Portugal team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo – with whom he lived for a time at the start of his Manchester United career – at the club.
Nani scored on his debut in a pre-season friendly against Shenzhen, netting the third in a 6–0 win. 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 in a 3–0 win.
On 5 August 2007, Nani made his competitive debut for United, 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 This was followed up by Nani's third goal for the club three days later, when he scored against Glentoran in another 3–0 pre-season win.
Nani with Gilberto Silva
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. 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.