Nani: I never wanted to leave United

Manchester United winger Nani insists he never thought about quitting Old Trafford even in the depths of his miserable form.

The Portugal star's reversal of fortunes recently has been impressive.

While most United fans would have been glad to see the back of Nani during last month's transfer window, the 23-year-old has become one of the most influential figures in the Red Devils' title surge.

His performance at Arsenal recently stood out, with the skill he showed before forcing Manuel Almunia to concede an own goal amongst the season's highlights so far.

Nani is now in line to face Aston Villa, which would be his fifth start on the trot, and welcome redemption that has earned him long overdue respect from the United faithful.

Yet the former Sporting Lisbon star insists even when the criticism was at its fiercest, he did not consider throwing in the towel.

"I never wanted to go," he told the Manchester Evening News.

"When you are feeling low and things aren't going well, you do feel alone and there have been times like that. But I never thought about quitting and going back to Portugal.

"I was in a bad position sometimes and it wasn't easy to get back up again. Of course, your confidence does suffer on occasions and you get down.

"But I have shown I don't get depressed too easily. I am a strong personality. If you are not a strong character then it will drag you down.

"I am not like that. I am sure I have the quality to be one of the best in the world. I can achieve that."

Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping for more of the same from Nani at Villa Park.

Although United have not lost at Villa since 1995, Martin O'Neill's side ended a 29-year wait for an Old Trafford victory earlier this season and are pressing hard for a cherished top-four place.

Veteran duo Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes both stand by for recalls, meaning record signing Dimitar Berbatov could miss out as Ferguson has tended to use Wayne Rooney as a lone striker.

Nemanja Vidic also has an outside chance of being involved after overcoming a nerve problem in his leg that has kept him on the sidelines throughout 2010 so far.

United veteran Gary Neville believes Nani is finally beginning to demonstrate that he can be a key figure at Old Trafford.

Defender Neville said in The Sun: "Nani's performances against Hull City, Manchester City and Arsenal have been absolutely fantastic.

"He has incredible ability, and when he performs like he did against Arsenal he is unstoppable. Players like Nani, who have such high skill levels, rely on confidence.

"We hope the level of performance, determination and skill he has shown in the last few games can be maintained until the end of the season because he's a matchwinner for us. I think Nani can be anything he wants to be.

"People expect so much from young players, but it sometimes takes time. It took time for Cristiano Ronaldo to settle in at United as well."

Source: Sporting Life
Date Published: 10 February 2010