Portugal international Nani was introduced to the media by MLS club Orlando City on Tuesday, after joining on a three-year contract from Sporting.

Nani, who has been capped 112 times by his country, brought an end to his third spell at Alvalade by completing a much-anticipated move to the United States, where he has been drafted in as a Designated Player with Orlando ahead of the 2019 season.

The former Manchester United, Fenerbahce, Valencia and Lazio man has been a bright spot in a turbulent season for Sporting, with Nani registering seven goals and four assists from 18 matches in the Portuguese top flight. However, the 32-year-old says he felt the opportunity to move to Florida felt right.

“In the past couple of years I had some approaches to bring me to MLS. But I did not feel it was the time. Orlando arrived at the right moment. I’m someone who follows my feelings and my feelings told me it was the time to move on. I was doing very well at Sporting and I was happy there, but I liked the challenge and opportunity to be part of his project at Orlando.

“Orlando give me the chance to have a new dream, to continue to believe I can perform at a high level. MLS has been improving in recent years, and they give me the conditions to show my football to this big country. Orlando is growing. They have a beautiful project for the future. They want to be a champion team who compete to win. So I was excited to come and join this project.”

Montero friendship

Nani’s departure comes just days after another Leões fan favourite left the club, with Fredy Montero also moving to MLS to join Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps. Nani was asked if he had spoken with his former colleague, and told the press conference in Orlando that the pair have been in communication.

 “I spoke with him. He told me a little about MLS. I was happy and he was happy too. We talked a little and I told him ‘I’ll see you there’ so we will see each other. We are good friends; my family and his family are very close. So we just need to find the time.”

The 2016 European champion also took to social media, where he spoke about his departure from his hometown club. Speaking on Instagram, Nani said: “Returning to Sporting I felt at home, wearing the captain's armband made me proud, winning the Taça da Liga brought immense joy, but I can't deny we had ups & downs. I never thought I'd leave but sometimes life throws up opportunities that are good for all parties. But this isn't 'goodbye' to Sporting, it's 'see you soon'.”

Nani joins Orlando, who coincidentally share Sporting’s nickname of The Lions, as the club look to build on a poor showing last season in MLS, finishing bottom of the Eastern Conference with just 28 points from 32 matches. “I’m starting to know more about the team,” Nani said. “Over the next weeks I will get to know my teammates and the way we play.

“But we have a big opportunity to improve. We have good players, young players and ones experienced in MLS. So I hope I can help the team to improve in a lot of things, as I’m more experienced. I’m sure we will have a strong team over the next couple of years.”

Nani will not be the only Portuguese – indeed not the only Sporting graduate – in the Orlando ranks for the upcoming season. 21-year-old defender João Moutinho left the Sporting academy in 2017 at the age of 18 and arrived at Orlando in December from Los Angeles FC.

By Sean Gillen

 

Comments (16)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

so sad. what a player he was. and going to a league where the level of football is so poor. he made all the wrong choices in his career. lazio, valencia. he could only play well under portuguese management. i doubt he will be a success in america...

so sad. what a player he was. and going to a league where the level of football is so poor. he made all the wrong choices in his career. lazio, valencia. he could only play well under portuguese management. i doubt he will be a success in america with a totally different culture.

Read More
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What are you talking about his best days were under sir alex ferguson. Lazio and Valencia moves were past his good days.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Who cares...

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I agree- who cares
Nani’ club career has been ALL about money- and disastrous choices.
What a joke!.
He will FAIL in MLS 100%

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

yikes, some pretty unfriendly responses

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I’m surprised with all the disrespect shown towards Nani with you guys. He always had it tougher than most as he was cast in the “next Ronaldo” shadow first when he arrived at Man U. I’ll admit that for Portugal he was frustrating to watch...

I’m surprised with all the disrespect shown towards Nani with you guys. He always had it tougher than most as he was cast in the “next Ronaldo” shadow first when he arrived at Man U. I’ll admit that for Portugal he was frustrating to watch overall but he certainly had some monumental moments so you can’t hate him. Anyways, I live in New York so I watch the mls pretty regularly and in my opinion he’s going to struggle here. The MLS doesn’t have a shortage of very athletic players, in fact I’d bet that the MLS has some of the quickest players in any league. American kids growing up have access to the best facilities and training so the MLS if anything they have the athletes. If Nani thinks he’ll be able to run past these outside fullbacks easily...he’s mistaken. Nani to be effective needs to be a “number 10” for this team and I’m not sure if he’s able to do in my opinion. Anyways, I’ll always respect Nani, I obviously wish he did more but I’d argue that he’s had a better career than anyone else from his generation other than Ronaldo.

Read More
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Justin is right. Nani played in top clubs in Portugal, England, Spain and Italy and won lots of titles including the champions league and Euro 2016 where he was maybe Portugal's best player. He had a fantastic career and deserves respect. And I'm...

Justin is right. Nani played in top clubs in Portugal, England, Spain and Italy and won lots of titles including the champions league and Euro 2016 where he was maybe Portugal's best player. He had a fantastic career and deserves respect. And I'm a Benfica fan by the way.

Read More
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

The fact that people are being so dismissive of Nani is a shambles. No he was never Ronaldo and maybe his faults were easier to see but to just say "who cares" to someone who had so many caps for their country - won pretty much everything at club...

The fact that people are being so dismissive of Nani is a shambles. No he was never Ronaldo and maybe his faults were easier to see but to just say "who cares" to someone who had so many caps for their country - won pretty much everything at club level. Played in various countries and leagues and came back to his hometown club twice after leaving means you don't have to like him but you've got to respect him.

I am a Benfica fan myself but when someone contributes as much as he did over the last decade plus it is not time to be rude.

also RE the guy he who says he did everything for money...surely he would have gone to China/Dubai/Qatar in his career?

Read More
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Funny seeing people crap on this guy. He is a Portugal great and should be spoken among the same sentences as Figo, Rui Costa, Deco, Pauleta, etc. He is the 8th top goalscorer for the Seleccao, and 3 of those goals led to our Euro.

As a club...

Funny seeing people crap on this guy. He is a Portugal great and should be spoken among the same sentences as Figo, Rui Costa, Deco, Pauleta, etc. He is the 8th top goalscorer for the Seleccao, and 3 of those goals led to our Euro.

As a club player, he was brilliant at Sporting, brilliant for 2 seasons at Man U, inconsistent and underperformed in Spain, Turkey and Italy, but he was back to his best at Sporting this season. He never lived up to the Ronaldo comparisons, but who can?

This guy is a legend, and his leaving has more to do with Feredrico Varandas wanting to save $$ on salary than Nani wanting to leave. A report came out yesterday stating that Varandas was presenting the financial report at Sporting, which would show a savings of $6.1 million for the next quarter. This is why Nani left. This also shows why Varandas opted for a no name in Keizer as the manager; guy likely cost peanuts.

So please bear all this in mind before you crap on a Portugal legend.

Read More
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Nani has always been one of my favorite players to watch and he always left everything he had on the field for Portugal. He may not have become the player it looked like he might become early in his Manchester United days, but he has had an...

Nani has always been one of my favorite players to watch and he always left everything he had on the field for Portugal. He may not have become the player it looked like he might become early in his Manchester United days, but he has had an excellent career.

It's ridiculous to berate a guy who has done so much in a Portugal shirt. Did those bashing him simply skip Euro 2016, where he was excellent? Or think he had nothing to do with Portugal always qualifying for tournaments while Nani earned 112 caps? He was unlucky too, getting injured right before the 2010 World Cup when he was playing fantastic and which he followed with a season when he was as good as any player in the Premier League.

I'm happy to see him close his career out this way. He can do all kinds of damage in the MLS, just like Zlatan.

Read More
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I meant who cares he is going to MLS. MLS is where European players go to die and squeeze a little more money before they do. Thank god the Red Bull’s didn’t take him.

There are no comments posted here yet
Load More

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location

      

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“After the final whistle, I saw what I most wanted to see - the joy of our fans and our players.”

Bruno Lage
(Benfica coach after title-clinching victory against Santa Clara) 

Partners