ORLANDO, Fla. — There was a time not so long ago when Nani had offers from other MLS clubs.
But for the Portuguese international, Orlando City SC had the best timing to lure him from Europe.
“I had in the last couple years some teams, some people who approached me to try to bring me to MLS, [and] other countries, but I didn’t feel it was the time,” Nani said during Tuesday’s introductory press conference. The 32-year-old signed a three-year Designated Player deal with the club that was announced on Monday.
“Orlando arrived at the right moment,” Nani added. “I’m a person who feels my feelings and my feelings told me it was the time to move on. I was doing very well at Sporting [Lisbon], I was happy there, but as I said, I liked the challenge, the opportunity to be part of this project in Orlando."
The Lions sold Nani on a dream to come play in a league that’s improving for a team with big ambitions.
“What Orlando give me is what I’ve been asking myself all my career,” said Nani. “I play to win, I play to compete, I play to achieve big things. This has been all my life, my career, I’ve been giving all my best.
“Orlando gave me a chance and opportunity to have a new dream and to continue to believe I can perform at the highest level. MLS has been improving in the last years and they gave me the conditions to show my football to this big country.”
Orlando City EVP of soccer operations Luiz Muzzi said the deal began developing a month and a half ago, well after he assumed his role with the post last December.
“It’s not nothing simple,” said Muzzi. “It’s not something that you just make a phone call and it’s done. It took a little bit of time to get it all done.”
“I spoke with [Fredy], he told me about MLS, and I was really happy, and he was happy,” said Nani. “We talked and I told him that I’ll see him then, so we’ll see each other. We’re real good friends…we just need to find the time.”
Nani didn’t lay out his expectations for the team this year, saying he still needs to get a good understanding of his teammates before the season begins.
“We have a big opportunity to improve,” said Nani. “We have good players, we have young players and a couple experienced players from MLS. I hope I can help the team to improve in a lot of things where I’m more experienced. For the next years, I’m sure we’ll have a strong team.”