'Emotional' Champions League something indescribable, claims ex-Man Utd winger Nani

By Sports Desk May 26, 2023

Ex-Manchester United winger Nani believes the "emotional" power of the Champions League is something that cannot be explained.

Manchester City and Inter will meet at Istanbul's Ataturk Olympic Stadium next month, with the Premier League club chasing a potential treble in Turkey.

It marks the second final for Pep Guardiola's team after their 2021 loss to Chelsea, while Inter will feature in a Champions League final for the first time since they won the competition in 2010.

Nani, who now plays for Melbourne Victory in the A-League, reached three finals between 2008 and 2011 with United, and describes the showpiece game as an indescribable event.

"It's true, you get emotional," he said in an interview with the Go Turkiye YouTube Channel. "It's something you can't explain.

"When I heard the [Champions League] music, I used to sing at the same time. The experience on the field is amazing, it makes you nervous, it makes you anxious for the start of the game.

"But playing in the final is something else. It is something that any player wants to experience. I've been lucky in my career to have been able to play in three finals. I was lucky enough to win one of them.

"That feeling is amazing. For a player to explain, it is difficult.

"It is a lot of pressure. On a stage where you're playing against so many stars, I was very nervous but in the end everything went well.

"When you win the game, you just think about celebrating with your team-mates, with your family, and with the people who love you."

Asked if any of his former team-mates stood out for their dedication to European question, Nani picked out ex-United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who won his first Champions League title with the club in 2008.

"He's been the best player everywhere he's been," he added. "Ronaldo was amazing. In the Champions League. He always treated those matches differently.

"His preparation and concentration for these matches was completely different from league games. [But] I had a lot of players I enjoyed playing with.

"[Take] Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, and Patrice Evra. All of these players had an elite mentality when it came to the Champions League. It was very special."

Fenerbahce forward Michy Batshuayi, meanwhile, pointed to one of his former Chelsea team-mates.

"For me, it was Eden Hazard," Batshuayi said.

"What I liked about him was how relaxed he was, for him, the game was very simple, and because of this, he found it very easy to beat the opponent.

"I love that mentality, it doesn’t put pressure on the player. I have many other players like [Cesc] Fabregas, David Luiz and John Terry."

Related items

  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s admiration of City ‘a complete honour’ says Pep Guardiola Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s admiration of City ‘a complete honour’ says Pep Guardiola

    Pep Guardiola has thanked Sir Jim Ratcliffe for ‘helping him do his job’ by stating his admiration for Manchester City.

    New Manchester United co-owner Ratcliffe recently spoke of his ambition to knock neighbours City, and another of their rivals in Liverpool, “off their perch”.

    Yet in doing so he conceded United had fallen well behind both of those clubs and admitted much could be learned from their success.

    He even went as far as to say City’s 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League semi-finals was “the best quality of football I’ve ever seen”.

    Guardiola says such compliments are a source of pride and feed his continuing desire for success.

    The City manager, whose side host United on Sunday, said: “I just say thank you so much.

    “Sometimes they are more than the titles, the compliments of the personalities that make this country, like Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s comments. It is a complete honour for us.

    “One can produce emotions and feelings for the players and our rivals. That helps to do our job. Thank you so much on behalf of all of us.

    “But I am sure tomorrow they will try, one way or another, to inoculate the Man Utd players with the best performance to try to beat us.”

    This weekend’s derby could be a key encounter for champions City in their bid to win a fourth successive Premier League title.

    Considering their recent superiority over their neighbours, and United’s inconsistency this season, City are expected to come out on top but Guardiola is wary of the pitfalls of the fixture.

    He said: “Do you remember when United went to Anfield this season? Last season it was 7-0.

    “Remember the comments? How many goal are Liverpool going to score? It would be easy for Liverpool.

    “What was the result? Liverpool didn’t win.

    “It is United. The past is the past. Tomorrow it is 11 players with pride, with a manager – we cannot deny how good he has done in the past in Amsterdam – trying to do his best.

    “In different situations, with City in the position of United, I know my players would behave at Old Trafford with pride and the best character. It is going to happen to United on Sunday.

    “It will be a tough game, another final for us. I know how difficult it will be.

    “It has been more difficult here than at Old Trafford in our period together. We lost more (derby) games here than Old Trafford. We have to perform really well to do it.”

  • Eve eyes improvement from Soca Warriors in second friendly clash with Jamaica Eve eyes improvement from Soca Warriors in second friendly clash with Jamaica

    While pleased with their performance in a 0-1 loss to Jamaica in game one, Trinidad and Tobago's Head coach Angus Eve is anticipating even more improvements from his Soca Warriors when the two teams meet in the second game of the two-match series on Sunday.

    With Jamaican debutante Kaheim Dixon scoring the game's lone goal in the 58th minute at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday, Eve opted to focus on the positives in the exercise, which provided an opportunity for several local-based players to make their national senior team debut.

    Eve gave debut starts Tiger Tanks Club Sando pair of left back Shervohnez Hamilton and midfielder Kai Moos, while AC Port of Spain's versatile wing back Liam Burns also got his first start for the twin island republic. The overseas-based pair of Kai Garvey and Justin Obikwu, who started at the left wing and centre forward positions respectively, also found favour with Eve, who felt the new players adjusted well in their first outing.

    "It is going to be difficult for these guys (Garvey and Obikwu) coming from where they are coming from and trying to adjust in just a couple days of work. I thought they adjusted well. They tried to bring the strengths they had to the group," Eve said in a post-match conference.

    "For the most part, I thought the group did really well. We gave up a really soft goal and we could not get ourselves back in the game. I think it was a lack of belief and that happens when players are not accustomed to playing at this level consistently. For effort, you must give all of the guys an A," he added.

    Still, with the main objective being to identify players to fit into his final squad for the upcoming Copa America playoff fixture against Canada on March 23, Eve is expected to look at a different line up with hopes that they will be mor fluid and consist in their play to give the coaching staff much to think about.

    "I thought it was a great exercise for the guys. When you look at the starting team, we had about six or seven players who were uncapped. We need more exercises like this to expose these guys and give them the opportunity because they have been doing well in the league," the tactician shared.

    "So, it's now to give the guys who are more established a run out going into the playoff game. Rhondel Gibson was good on the ball and when he came on, the team started to believe a little bit more. He wasn't afraid to get to the ball and those are the type of players we are looking for to be that brave and show themselves," Eve ended.

    The second game is scheduled for a 4:00pm kick off (3:00pm Jamaica time), at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar on Sunday.

    NB: That game will be live on SportsMax.

  • Sean Dyche tells Everton players to take responsibility for missed chances Sean Dyche tells Everton players to take responsibility for missed chances

    Frustrated Everton manager Sean Dyche has told his players it is time they started taking responsibility for the chances they are missing in front of goal as more failures up front contributed to their 3-1 defeat at home to West Ham.

    Beto’s 56th-minute header, after he had missed the club’s first penalty of the season, put them ahead but Kurt Zouma equalised within six minutes and, having found goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in good form, conceded twice in stoppage time to Tomas Soucek and Edson Alvarez.

    Problems up front have been an issue all season – only the bottom two sides Burnley and Sheffield United have scored fewer than the Toffees’ 29 – but there are signs Dyche is starting to lose patience.

    “I am looking at the talent we have got and looking at the quality we have got and how we are not scoring more goals is just bizarre,” he said after a 10th game without victory.

    “I can talk about the xG, I can talk about the quality, I can talk about everything but I’ve never been naive in football and you have to go and do it.

    “I’ve just said to the players we have a responsibility collectively to actively go and take the chances we are creating and that is everyone.

    “It is hard to correct it when it is there, right in front of your eyes. What more can we do?

    “But the players have a responsibility at this football club as well as the manager and staff and we know it is a joint responsibility.”

    Dropping Dominic Calvert-Lewin, without a goal in his last 21 matches, was somewhat justified by only Beto’s second league goal on an afternoon of mixed emotions for the £24million summer signing from Udinese.

    But Dyche was pleased with the Portuguese’s reaction, adding: “That was what was pleasing about Beto.

    “Missing a penalty is not easy, he missed a good chance in the first half but he kept going and it is great header.

    “He fatigued so we had to take him off but it is another good marker from him to say ‘Look, I am ready and I want to take it on’.”

    For West Ham boss David Moyes it was two wins in six days to keep his side in seventh place and chasing European qualification.

    “I think the result was harsh on Everton but our goalkeeper made four or five outstanding saves,” said the Scot, on his return to his former club.

    “We scored three goals at Everton, they don’t concede too many, we scored four in the week against Brentford, so we’ve done the job.

    “We have come through six or seven weeks when very little has gone for us; today I don’t know if it’s the right word in that it went for us but the goalkeeper made saves which he is there to do.

    “I’d have to say I’m thrilled with the win, a wee bit of a throwback, but I really enjoyed it.”

    Moyes reserved special praise for his goalkeeper, adding: “He probably made the difference, his performance was terrific.

    “A lot of goalkeepers get praised for different things – the use of the ball – but most people from the era I come from it is the ones who save it with their hands and stop the ball going in the net most of the time and I thought he did that really well today.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.