Sat. Oct 31st, 2020

Nani: I was never in Ronaldo and Rooney’s shadow at Man Utd

2 min read

The winger, now in MLS with Orlando City, enjoyed a fruitful spell at Old Trafford and says comparisons with his Portugal team-mate were unfair

Former Manchester United winger Nani says he never felt he was in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney during his time at Old Trafford.

The Portugal international, now 33, spent eight seasons at United between 2007 and 2015 after following in Ronaldo’s footsteps from Sporting C.P.

Nani won four Premier League titles and the Champions League in a United career that spanned over 200 appearances, while Ronaldo left for Real Madrid two seasons after Nani had joined.

Asked by Tribuna Expresso if he saw that point as a chance to step out of Ronaldo’s shadow, Nani replied: “No. I never felt in the shadow of Ronaldo, [Ryan] Giggs or Rooney.

“And there were no shadows at that time. We had a fantastic team.

“I played with Ronaldo lots of times as a starter. Our team had two or three playing styles and when it came to facing certain teams it was Nani and Ronaldo, while others were Ronaldo with Rooney.

“I was fortunate that when I came to Manchester, I played a lot of games in my first two years there and I was one of the most used players in the Champions League. So I have no reason to complain.”

With Nani and Ronaldo both playing out wide for Portugal and both signed from the same club, comparisons between the two were inevitable.

When Ronaldo left in the summer of 2009, some saw Nani as his replacement.

He had already made more than 70 competitive appearances for United by then, but the expectations on him were raised.

“When Cristiano left, an illusion was created,” Nani says. “People said me and Ronaldo had a very similar style, there were lots of comparisons and they wanted a replacement for him – and they had me.

“But they got it wrong; they shouldn’t have said we have the new Ronaldo, they should have said we have Nani. Better or worse, with different qualities.

“In the first two years after Ronaldo left, I had some excellent times. Then I had the misfortune of having some injuries and my form dropped after my recovery.

“I was no longer meeting expectations, which was maybe to produce the same numbers as Ronaldo, the same number of goals.

“But I was a different player; I never scored so many goals, but got more assists.”

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