MANCHESTER // Nani remembers the sight of blood gushing out of his leg. He remembers, too, his immediate reaction. "The first time I looked at my leg, I was thinking, 'The season is finished for me now'," the Manchester United winger said.
When Jamie Carragher's studs were planted into his shin 11 days ago, the Portuguese provided one of the images of the year, hobbling after Phil Dowd, the referee, in an effort to show him the extent of the damage and get his assailant dismissed before departing Anfield in tears.
The consequences were, he said, the reason for the waterworks.
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"It could have ended my season," he said. "That's why I was crying and thinking about everything. But after the doctor saw my leg and gave me the stitches, he said I was lucky. But I had five stitches."
They worked. Rather than ending his season, nine days after being carried off on a stretcher in the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, United's putative player of the year returned to action in Tuesday's Champions League win over Marseille.
"I started the game without pain," he said. "It's still sore, I had a kick on it but the pain's nothing big now and I hope in the next few days it's going to be much better."
Carragher was cautioned for the challenge meaning that, under English Football Association rules, no retrospective action can be taken against the Liverpool vice-captain. Nani believes the punishment was insufficient.
"I was not happy because when there's a tackle like that, the player should be sent off," the 24 year old said. "I felt the pain straight away. But I was in shock, I wanted to show to the ref [what he'd done]. I knew I wasn't going to play anymore and if I'm not going to be able to play he has to give the red card [for a tackle like that].
"But then he quickly gave the yellow card. How could he give the yellow card? He hadn't seen my leg. Then I showed him my leg and you could tell on his face [that he had made the wrong decision]."
The winger denied stories that he is considering leaving United for Italy, either this summer or next. "I didn't speak to anyone," he said. "Of course, I'm very happy here. I think everyone can see the way I play here says everything."
Wayne Rooney, too, is adamant his future is at Old Trafford. There were reports that his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson has broken down. Not true, the striker said: "My relationship with Sir Alex has no problems whatsoever, I'm enjoying my football here and if I was going to leave in the summer I wouldn't have signed a new contract when I did.
"I've signed it and I intend to see it through to the end. I admit I made a mistake by saying I wanted to leave [in October] but I've committed my future to United and I'm happy."
With fine displays in back-to-back games against Arsenal and Marseille, he has belatedly kick-started his season and Rooney said: "I feel sharp. The last two, three weeks is the best I've felt all season."
Ferguson, meanwhile, was yesterday given a five-match touchline ban and a £30,000 (Dh175,800) fine by the FA for his verbal attack on referee Martin Atkinson at Chelsea last month. The United manager questioned why the official had been given the game, after he failed to send off Chelsea's David Luiz.
Ferguson will spend the whole of April in the stands.