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Sir Alex hails Nani

Sir Alex Ferguson says he never viewed Nani as being in the shadow of Portugal team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Nani has often had to battle against comparisons with his more well-known international and former club team-mate. Even last term when he finished top of the Premier League assist charts in addition to grabbing nine goals, Nani found it impossible to force his way into Ferguson's Champions League final starting line-up.

There were plenty of observers who felt the Portugal international would abandon the Red Devils this summer in an effort to avoid such disappointments in future. However, Nani remains within the United fold and at Wembley yesterday scored twice to help his side emerge victorious in their Community Shield tussle with rivals Manchester City.

"He is only in Ronaldo's shadow because he is Portuguese," Ferguson said.

"That is the only link I can see. He was never in his shadow in my mind. He has always had great potential but some players take longer to mature than others.

"Ronaldo was an exception. He was an incredible footballer. He matured immediately, from 18 until he left us.

"Nani had a fantastic season last year. He was unfortunate that Antonio Valencia came in at a time when we needed a bit of freshness and a boost to the squad. But you have seen Nani's form in pre-season and again yesterday. He will start the season."

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