Euro 2012: Man United’s Nani hails the influence of Portugal’s Bento
Nani heaps praise on Portugal head coach Paulo Bento for helping the Manchester United star develop into a better player
Nani has hailed the influence of Portugal manager Paulo Bento on the Manchester United midfielder’s career ahead of their quarter-final against the Czech Republic on Thursday.
The 25-year-old scored five goals in 10 appearances as Portugal qualified for Euro 2012, highlighting the winger’s growing status as a key player for the national side over the past couple of seasons.
Nani’s progress at United has also been evident since he was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson from Sporting Lisbon in 2007, becoming more of a team player at Old Trafford.
The current Portugal boss was hit former coach at Sporting and Nani credits the 43-year-old with helping him develop into a more complete player.
“He’s one of the main reasons I am where I am because he opened doors and my eyes and made me see what I was doing was wrong many times,” said Nani.
“He made me realise that if I wanted to be here, as I am today, then I needed to change certain things.
“He believed in me and that’s what I remember. Paulo told me lots of things in private and when he became first-team coach at Sporting he gave me the opportunity to play.”
Pre-match facts: Czech Republic v Portugal
• The Czech Republic have faced Portugal twice, both in European championship. The Czechs overcame Portugal 1-0 en route to the final of Euro 96 in England, while Portugal were 3-1 winners on matchday two at Euro 2008.
• Portugal were four games without a win in 2012, scoring just once in that time, before back-to-back victories against Denmark and the Netherlands.
• The Czech Republic qualified from the group stage with a negative goal difference, as they did in 1996 when they reached the final.
• The winners will take on Spain or France in the semi-finals in Donetsk on 27 June.