Portugal international Nani paid tribute to the supporters of Orlando City after scoring his first goals for his new club in their dramatic 4-3 victory over Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening.
Nani’s penalty with just minutes left on the clock sealed a remarkable comeback for Orlando in a classic match in Florida, during which they twice trailed either side of leading 2-1, before Nani - who had scored his team’s first goal with a header - stepped up to win the match from the spot as it looked set to end 3-3.
Speaking after the match, Nani, who joined the club from Sporting in February, told reporters that the support the team receives from their fans inside the Orlando City Stadium is a new experience for a player who has represented Sporting, Manchester United, Fenerbahce, Lazio and Valencia during his European career.
“It’s always good to score the goals for the team,” Nani began. “All of it will help, but it’s obviously not the most important. We wanted to win for our fans. What they’ve been doing all the weeks was fantastic. I never saw that in my life. I’ve played for many teams, and when things are not going well, everyone knows how the fans normally react.
“These fans, they are special. So I wanted so badly to win, to help the team win. But we are very happy because we did. It was a great game, a fantastic game for our team, so we must continue to work hard and believe in each other because there’s a lot of good things coming for us.”
“I live football”
Nani had to wait until his 6th game for Orlando to open his account for the club, with the 32-year-old frustrated with his finishing during the previous week’s home defeat to DC United. Asked if he was driven by missing a big opportunity in the last game, Nani responded by emphasising the importance of training.
“I always work hard. Sometimes too much. But, yes, it’s important to work on what you work on during the week, we work a lot on finishing. Tonight was fantastic because we got so many opportunities and most of them we put in the goal. I think coach and all the team was happy because when you produce it on the pitch, it’s fantastic.
“Why was I so emotional? Because I live football. When I play, I always play with heart. I wanted to score. I wanted to give something to these fans. They’ve been supporting and receiving me very well. All my teammates deserve my help, so I wanted to help, so I scored. I was feeling very emotional. I’m so happy to help my team.”
By Sean Gillen