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Sporting's Nani showing promise

Published: Wednesday 20 December 2006, 16.37CET
Sporting Clube de Portugal midfielder Nani has become one of the most promising and sought-after prospects in Portuguese football during 2006.
by Hugo Pietra
from Lisbon features

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Published: Wednesday 20 December 2006, 16.37CET

Sporting's Nani showing promise

Sporting Clube de Portugal midfielder Nani has become one of the most promising and sought-after prospects in Portuguese football during 2006.

Nani is one of the most promising prospects in Portuguese football. In only his second full season at Sporting Clube de Portugal the 20-year-old has become a regular in the side, made his international debut and attracted the interest of several European clubs.

Lisbon background
A product of the side's youth academy Nani and was given his full debut at the age of 18 in August 2005. He made 29 appearances during the 2005/06 season and has gone on to make a further 14 this term, bringing to the side his own brand of silky dribbling and powerful running.

Spartak spectacular
Nani did not take long to take to UEFA Champions League football either, scoring an exceptional goal an hour into the match against FC Spartak Moskva in September. Nani finished off a one-two with Liedson by running half the length of the pitch, rounding the goalkeeper, chipping in from an acute angle and celebrating with a flamboyant somersault.

'Intense' celebration
"I thought about playing the one-two because I was sure that with my speed I could score," Nani told on his 20th birthday on 17 November. "It was a hard angle to score from but it went in and as it was my first UEFA Champions League goal I celebrated it intensely. It was a good shot but I was a little bit lucky."

'Amazing feeling'
The precocious midfielder has since broken into the full Portugal squad and is hoping to soon become a regular. "It was an amazing feeling to play alongside Portugal's top players," said Nani. "Now that initial rush has passed and I only want to work hard and show people what I can do. If I'm in the Portugal team it's because I have the qualities to be there.”

European interest
Nani, who is set to take part in next summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals, has already attracted the interest of some of Europe's leading clubs but insists he is happy staying put. "It is always nice to know that clubs are interested," Nani said. "But I am feeling very good at Sporting at the moment. I am very happy here."

'Rare talent'
Sporting's other emerging youngsters are united in their praise for their talented team-mate. Miguel Veloso said: "He is very quick, has rare skill and is a very strong player. He's the kind of person who supports you when you need it. He is a five-star individual." Yannick Djaló added: "He treats everyone the same way. Nani is a great guy and everybody can see he's a tremendous player."

Last updated: 10/12/17 0.36CET

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