“Nani” Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha
Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha, commonly known as Nani or Luís Nani, is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a winger for the Portugal national team. Although predominantly right-footed, he has been utilized on the left wing on many occasions. Nani was born in Cape Verde and emigrated to Europe with his family at an early age. He was raised in Portugal and began his football career playing for local side Real Massamá. At the age of nine, he began training with Sporting Clube de Portugal and S.L. Benfica on alternate days, eventually joining Sporting’s youth squad after they offered him pre-season training. Nani made his professional debut with the club in 2005 and won the Portuguese Cup during his second season with them. Nani was named the SJPF Young Player of the Month for May 2007 and his performances with Sporting culminated into a move to English club Manchester United in July 2007 for a fee of €25 million. Nani won the Community Shield on his competitive debut at Manchester United and added a number of trophies, including the Premier League and Champions League during his debut season at the club. He established himself as first-choice winger at United and won a further three Premier League titles, the Football League Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup, and three Community Shield titles. Individually, Nani was included in the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Premier League Team of the Year on one occasion and was a nominee for the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2011. Following a loan back to Sporting, in which he won the Taça de Portugal, he was signed for £4.25 million by Fenerbahçe in July 2015, and a year later he signed for Valencia. Nani is also a Portugal international. Prior to playing at senior level, he played at under-21 level. He made his senior international debut in September 2006 in a friendly match against Denmark and scored his first international goal during the 4–2 defeat in Copenhagen. Nani has represented his country at four major tournaments, including three European Championships: he took part at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 European Championships, reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2012, and winning Euro 2016; he also participated at the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Portugal. Since his debut, he has made over 100 appearances and scored 24 goals for the Portugal national team.
“Nani” Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha
Match Worn Boots
Did you Know?
In the early stages of his career at Manchester United, Nani’s ability and playing style often invited comparisons with club and international teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, however Nani’s style developed into more that of a traditional winger than Ronaldo’s evolution into a centre forward. While being able to play on both wings, Nani is more comfortable on the right side, where he has been known to utilize his pace along with intricate dribbling skills and trickery to create space in wide areas and provide crosses for teammates. Though capable of cutting inside from either wing to strike at goal from distance, Nani scores fewer goals but produces a substantially higher proportion of assists than his compatriot Ronaldo. Due to his potent attacking talents, he can play a variety of additional roles as a forward including as an inverted winger on the left, second striker, or even in a more central position as a main striker, as he has played frequently for Portugal. Nani celebrates a goal with a “mortal” (“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 reported that United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had banned Nani’s celebration due to fear for his safety. Nani denounced the reports in August 2007, stating it was “not true” and that “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”.