Nani provides assist just two minutes into Venezia debut

Cristiano Ronaldo is not the only player from Manchester United’s 2008 Champions League winning team still playing.

His former United and Portugal teammate Nani is still going, and at the age of 35 he has returned to European football after a two-year spell in MLS with Orlando City.

Nani clinched a move to Venezia in Serie A last week, joining former United star Sergio Romero at the Italian relegation battlers.

Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Instant impact

It took Nani less than two minutes to make an impact upon his return to European football. To be precise, 115 seconds after coming off the bench.

Nani provided an assist with a pass for David Okerere, who scored to secure a 1-1 draw against Empoli, which kept them in 17th, one place above the relegation zone.

The former United winger told TMW after the game: “I think my debut was good, the team did their best, but we have to work to improve further. I think Serie A is the best league in the world, and I am more than happy to be able to play here.”

His manager Paolo Zanetti said after the game he was hoping not to have to use Nani, but needed to gamble and bring him on in the 72nd minute with his side 1-0 down.

Zanetti said: “Nani who I didn’t want to play, but he has a lot of quality, he touched two balls and made us score, even without training. I hope he makes it clear to the many guys that we have that first of all we need to have fun, without being afraid, while in the first half I saw fear.”

Nani posted a message on Instagram after the game in which he said he hopes his assist is the first of many, writing: “Thank you to all the fans for the welcome today! Great to make my debut for @veneziafc and happy to have helped the team. More to come!”

Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Nani rejuvenated

The spell in MLS did a lot to rejuvenate Nani’s career, and now he follows Zlatan by ditching America for Italy.

Nani scored 31 goals in two seasons at Orlando City, not far off the 41 he netted in eight years at Manchester United.

Only in 2015 did his departure from United become official, after Louis van Gaal had sent him back on loan to former club Sporting, he joined Fenerbahce in Turkey.

He failed to settle, moving to Valencia a year later, before being loaned to Lazio, and then returning to Sporting for a third spell.

After exhausting his options, Nani went to try his luck in MLS and it has done him a lot of good. Now he is enjoying his football again and showing his quality still endures. It will be fascinating to see what else he has to offer in Italy as the season goes on.

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