This has been the season Nani finally emerged from Cristiano Ronaldo’s towering shadow, thanks in no small part to his form in front of goal.
The Manchester United winger has got into double figures on the scoring cards this campaign – his most productive since arriving at Old Trafford in 2007.
More after the break
His impressive ability to cut infield and unleash a devastating howitzer makes him a major threat from anywhere in the opposition half.
Nani’s explosive firepower isn’t the result of a new training regime but years of practice, from the streets of Queluz to the plush Carrington. The result: an arsenal of shots with either foot that move like a paper dart in a hurricane.
“I used to play futsal in the street with my friends when I was young. I would spend all afternoon practicing shooting on my right and left,” he says.
“It’s not about the power you put on the ball: it’s about your control, your touch and your technique. After training I like to shoot with my left and right. Practice is very important.”
And here, just for FFT Performance, the Man United flier reveals his secrets to his distinctive shooting techniques.
Body position: “Getting this shot right is all about balance. You have to put all your body over the ball: your head, knee and chin. Your knee and chin need to be in line. If your body is not in the right position the ball goes over. The position of your standing foot is important – it gives you the balance. It has to be planted next to the ball, but not too close.”
Where to hit the ball: “Strike the ball in the middle: this makes the ball move side to side, which is very difficult for the goalkeeper. I prefer this type of shot. Strike through the ball, but you don’t need to take off with both feet. Power is generated through technique.”
The end result: “The shot will move side to side on its path to goal, potentially changing direction at the last second, even after heading straight at the keeper.”
THE BIG DIPPER
Body position: “Again you want to get your body over the ball, but you want to keep your head up. Don’t lean back, because that will make the ball fly in a different direction. Square your hips to the target: this will help you keep the shot straight.”
Where to hit the ball: “Connect with the ball slightly off and below the valve. Strike through it, but on the follow-through your foot comes up and over. Keep your body straight – this will help generate power.”
The end result: “Bringing it together in an explosive but controlled fashion will propel the ball upwards before zipping down sharply.”
Body position: “To keep the ball down you want to be getting over the ball once more. On this shot you need to plant your foot slightly before the ball, not directly next to it. If you’re shooting with your right foot, bring back your right arm, to help generate power, and get your left arm out to give you extra balance.”
Where to hit the ball: “Catch the ball slightly off and below the valve, but this time your foot is almost clipping it and coming up on the way out. Once you’ve made connection it’s all about the movement of your leg. You’re stretching it out and pointing your toes.”
The end result: “The ball comes up and down with real whip and bend.”
* Well, that’s what FourFourTwo decided to call it!
Nani wears the new adidas adiPower Predator which improves boot to ball contact for increased ball control. For further information go to: adidas.com/football