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And to be honest I never expected him to deliver so early

Manchester United's wonder goal scorer Nani has admitted he never expected to be given his opportunity so soon by Sir Alex Ferguson.


Although Ferguson was prepared to invest up to £17million in Nani when he signed the Portugal international from Sporting Lisbon during the summer, the United boss made it quite clear it was a purchase for the future.

Unfortunately for Ferguson, a massive injury list forced him to change those plans and Nani was making his 14th appearance in 15 games this season when he opened the scoring with a sensational 30-yard effort against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Although Owen Hargreaves has begun his comeback from a long-term knee problem and Michael Carrick is hoping to get the all-clear to return to training after dislocating his elbow against AS Roma earlier this month, with Paul Scholes now sidelined, Nani cannot expect much of a rest just yet.

"I must confess, I was never expecting to be in the first-team so soon," said the 20-year-old.

"I was well aware of the quality of my team-mates and I knew I would have to work very hard to break into the first XI.

"But things have happened very quickly for me and I was lucky enough to get a chance to show the manager what I can do."

After netting two jaw-dropping efforts on United's pre-season tour, Nani wasted no time in delighting the Old Trafford faithful with a stunning winner against Tottenham which launched Ferguson's side on their current eight-match winning run.

Just as on Saturday, Nani celebrated in acrobatic style.

Neither Ferguson, nor his assistant Carlos Queiroz, are entirely happy with the gymnastics, although it doesn't appear Nani will heed their advice to stop.

He said: "I have been doing it every since I was 14 and I love it.

"I started the celebration because, at the time, I was practising a Brazilian dance called a capoeira - a cross between martial arts and gymnastics. I am glad people enjoy watching it."

Ferguson won't have too many complaints if Nani is found repeating his celebration on plenty of occasions this term, given a goal will have preceded each one.

Although in-form Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez seem certain to contribute the bulk of United's goals this term, Ferguson is acutely aware others will need to do their bit as well if his side are to retain their title and surpass their semi-final appearance in last season's Champions League.

Nani acknowledges the fact too. And while he accepts he cannot yet claim to be part of Ferguson's preferred starting line-up, he is eager to please the Scot anyway.

"I would not say I am an automatic selection, not at all," he said.

"The only thing I can say is that it is important to do my best every time I play and help the team to win.

"I have had to adapt to a very different lifestyle in Manchester but I am gradually getting used to it.

"English football is definitely different. The tempo is much higher and it is a quick-thinking game.

"But I actually think that works in my favour because that is how I like to play. Coming over here was the best thing for me."
 
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