Nani forced to drive Sir Alex Ferguson home in silence after missing penalty

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Nani was neighbours with Sir Alex Ferguson while playing for Manchester United (Image: John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)
Nani was neighbours with Sir Alex Ferguson while playing for Manchester United (Image: John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Manchester United icon Nani was forced to endure an awkward silence when driving Sir Alex Ferguson home after a game in which he missed a decisive penalty.

The former Portugal winger wasn't United's regular penalty taker but took it upon himself to step up during a game against Fulham in 2010. He saw his kick saved by goalkeeper David Stockdale and United ended up dropping points against their London opponents.

It would get worse for the former Sporting Lisbon man, though. Nani was a neighbour of Ferguson in Cheshire at the time and has spoken of driving the boss home when the team returned from the capital

"I was on the bench and the manager put me on," Nani told Rio Ferdinand's FIVE YouTube channel when recalling the incident. "We were losing 1-0 and then I made a difference - we were drawing and then we won a penalty."

Nani's memory of the game is a little hazy; it was actually 1-1 when he came on and United led 2-1 when the referee pointed to the spot following a Damien Duff handball. It was his corner which found the back of the net via a touch from Fulham defender Brede Hangeland, but Nani failed to make the points safe from 12 yards.

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"I went up, [Ryan] Giggs was there with the ball, I pulled Giggs aside, I took the ball and I wanted to take the penalty, and I missed the penalty. My goodness," he continued.

What are your fondest memories of Nani at Manchester United? Have your say in the comments section.

Nani forced to drive Sir Alex Ferguson home in silence after missing penaltyNani missed from the spot as Manchester United drew with Fulham in 2010 (Phil Cole/Getty Images)

"That game finished 2-2. It was supposed to finish 3-2 for us with that penalty. So we came inside the dressing room and first of all he [Ferguson] turns to Giggs. He goes, 'Giggsy, with your experience, what the hell are you doing!? Why are you letting him…', and Giggs says 'He wanted to take the penalty, I let him take it'.

"Then he finishes with Giggsy and turns to me and goes 'Nani! You're never going to take a penalty for me again. Then we went home, we arrive in Macclesfield and the gaffer lives next to me, and so he was asking, 'Does anyone live in Wilmslow?'. I'm turning my head, I don't want to take him, but then someone said, 'Nani, don't you live in Wilmslow?'.

"So I took him in my car, and for two minutes we're just looking straight ahead, not talking. Then after I said, 'Yes, boss, sorry for the penalty', and he said, 'No, son, it's okay - you should hit it a little bit more strongly in the corner, but it's okay'."

Nani forced to drive Sir Alex Ferguson home in silence after missing penaltySir Alex Ferguson wasn't happy with Nani after the miss (AFP/Getty Images)

At the time, Ferguson publicly suggested Giggs should have taken the kick. "In the last game we played against Tottenham Hotspur at home, Ryan scored two penalty kicks and Nani was on the pitch the same day," the manager said.

"Maybe Ryan should have taken it. We had that opportunity to seal it with only a few minutes to go, and you think you're home and dry then. But the goalkeeper reacted quickly, getting across his goal, though I always think height is crucial at a penalty kick."

The penalty was just the second Nani had ever taken in United colours. The first - against Southampton in a 2009 FA Cup game - found the back of the net. He would have to wait until Ferguson's final season in charge to take another spot kick, and he missed that too, though it wouldn't matter as United still beat Galatasaray in the Champions League game in question.

Tom Victor

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