Thursday, December 14, 2017

Nani: We weren´t the best Portugal team – but we´ll be remembered forever

SoccerNews in La Liga 29 Dec 2016

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Portugal winger Nani admits that the side who became Euro 2016 champions cannot be considered the best in the country’s history.

Fernando Santos steered his men to an unlikely triumph in France, where they beat the host nation 1-0 after extra-time in the final to secure their first major trophy.

Despite boasting Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in attack, the experience of players such as Pepe and rising stars including Renato Sanches, Portugal were not considered to be serious contenders by many prior to the tournament.

Nani accepts that there have been Portuguese vintages with more star quality in the past but is more than satisfied being part of one that will be remembered forever at home.

“It was a great feeling, I still think about it often,” he told Omnisport. “It’s something that some of the best players in Portugal wanted to do but haven’t.

“Winning for my country is a huge achievement. I’m so proud of that. When you win trophies it’s great, you realise afterwards how much work you’ve put in.

“When we won the Euros it was the best thing in my life and for my team-mates. We celebrated a lot. When we met again with the national team we still talk about it, we know we will be remembered for ever.

“We’re not the best team in Portuguese history, others had better players, but we are the ones who won something for Portugal and we are so proud.

“We had some great games, the results weren’t always the ones we expected. We had been playing good players and the fans expected more and more wins. 

“We had a strategy for the competition, and the most important part was reaching the final and winning the competition. No-one can criticise us for how we played, our target was to win and we did that.”

Portugal won the final with an extra-time strike from Eder, having played since the 25th minute without Ronaldo, who went off in tears after failing to shake off a knee injury.

“It was a very hard moment when Ronaldo went off,” Nani recalled. “It was hard for him especially as he wanted to win a trophy. We were close as a team and in that moment we were very sad for him. He was an important player for our team.”

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