I want to be world’s best
10 March 2012
IT is a mantra by which Nani has led his life — 'Grab the opportunity, don't go back'.
First as a young boy when he would walk six miles to go football training with Real Massama because he simply did not have the money to get there any other way.
Then again when he made it at Sporting Lisbon and started climbing out of the poverty-stricken upbringing that forged his sheer determination.
Now he will use it once more in the best title run-in Manchester has witnessed.
Because Nani has never forgotten how hard it was to get here.
Nani, 25, said: "I had to fight for everything.
"I had no money or great conditions. I would go alone to training.
"I have done things on my own since I was very young, and when all opportunities came I was alone.
"But all these things make me learn quicker how important it is what I have got.
"Since those days every opportunity I have had I have taken and I will never go backwards.
"The first time I played for Sporting and the national team I took the chance, the first time I got in the Manchester United first team I grabbed it. I take the chances."
One of 10 children from a broken marriage, Nani was brought up in a shanty town in north-west Lisbon by an aunt. Yet he would not slip into the life of crime that swallowed up so many children.
He was single-minded in his determination to be recognised for the skills forged on dusty, rubble-strewn pitches and make sure his ambition to be a great footballer would be realised. That ambition was recognised by Sporting Lisbon and eventually led to a £17million move to Old Trafford.
That ambition to stand out and make a difference has never left him and despite three titles and a Champions League medal, he wants more. He wants to be on top of the world.
Nani said: "My ambition all my career is to be regarded as the best in the world.
"I won't be frustrated if I don't get there because I know it is hard to be regarded as the best.
"But I always believe I can get there. I know I have to be in the top five.
"I have the qualities, the power, the mentality, I am very professional."
The exciting winger knows that he has the ability to produce something special that will change a game, whether in assists or stunning goals.Something that might just decide which side of Manchester the Premier League trophy will end up.
Last season was his best at United so far with 10 goals and almost twice as many assists. This season it is eight goals and 10 assists and he is not finished.
He said: "I see myself as a player who can make a difference."
And everyone is looking for what exactly will separate the two Manchester giants over these next two months. Nani, who made his debut for Sporting Lisbon in 2005 before joining United two years later, believes he knows what the key factor will be as the title race enters the final few furlongs.
He added: "You have to know how to deal with the pressure and United have always been at this stage and done so well.
"The pressure is on us more than City because they have the two-point lead. Also we have been there every season and people expect us to win the league every season.
"But while there is pressure we also know how to handle it.
"You have to relax and always believe your team-mates and your team can win the games.
"We want to show we are the very best."
The derby match at The Etihad on the night of April 30 promises to be the biggest ever clash between the fierce rivals. The last time they met in the league City ran riot at Old Trafford winning 6-1.
At home they have now won 19 consecutive league games, equalling United's own record, but the Red Devils have won at City's ground in the FA Cup.
Talking at an EA SPORTS FIFA Street launch event, Nani said: "The 6-1 defeat was a result of little mistakes from everyone.
"We know that on a normal day with all concentration on the game it will never happen again.
"They have a great home record but we have won there in the Cup and that will help us believe."
Having spent five years in Manchester, Nani is fully aware of what this title means to the city.
And he wants to be able to walk down the street with his head held high at the end of it.
He said: "It is special when two teams in the same city are going for the title.
"I am aware of the feeling in the city, because when we lost the derby it was hard to go out and if we lose the title it will be even harder. It will be the same for the fans."
Nani does not want to hide, he never has, he wants to grab the opportunity and never go back.