True man of the west

Maniche had an outstanding 2002-03 season as Porto, under cocksure manager Jose Mourinho, won the Portuguese League and Cup double and the UEFA Cup, writes Andy Hampson.

Playmaker at the heart of the Portugal side, Maniche joined Atletico Madrid in the summer and had previously played for Benfica, Alverca, Porto, Dynamo Moscow and Chelsea.

His full name is Nuno Ricardo Oliveira Ribeiro but he is nicknamed Maniche in homage to Benfica's Danish winger of the 1980s, Michael Manniche.

The versatile, attack-minded player is a product of the Benfica youth system and was promoted to the first-team squad as a teenager in 1995-96. He did not feature, however, and was sent on loan to Alverca for the next three seasons. He returned to Lisbon giants Benfica in 1999 and spent three years in the first team, scoring 14 goals.

Things started to turn sour in the last of those seasons, 2001-02, and he ended up training on his own after a dispute with the board at the Estadio da Luz. That altercation paved the way for his move to Porto and proved the major turning point in his career.

Maniche had an outstanding 2002-03 season as Porto, under cocksure manager Jose Mourinho, won the Portuguese League and Cup double and the UEFA Cup. The following season proved even better as Porto not only retained their title but also surprised many by winning the Champions League.

The Porto side began to break up after that and Maniche spent another year there before deciding to move on himself. He joined Dynamo Moscow in the summer of 2005 for a Russian league record of around GBP10.5 million but did not have a particularly happy time there.

In January 2006 he agreed to join Barclays English Premier League champions Chelsea on a six-month loan, the move reuniting him with former Porto coach Mourinho. It was not a highly successful move as, although Chelsea retained the title, Maniche largely disappointed and did not make enough appearances to earn a medal.

Chelsea opted not to make the move permanent in the summer and instead signed German star Michael Ballack. Maniche went back to Moscow but agreed to join Atletico for the start of the 2006-07 season.

Internationally, Maniche was a key figure as Portugal reached the final of Euro 2004.

He also made up for his disappointing 2005-06 with Dynamo and Chelsea by producing some outstanding performances at this year's World Cup in Germany. He scored in Portugal's group-stage win over Mexico and again as they overcame Holland 1-0 in a fiery last-16 encounter in Nuremberg. Portugal went on to reach the semi-finals and Maniche was their only player to feature in the Golden Ball short-list for Player of the Tournament.

Maniche is married to Marisa and they had a daughter, Mariana, last year. The family moved to Moscow with Maniche when he joined Dynamo but could not settle in the Russian capital. The player's claims that his family were unhappy caused a storm in the Russian media at the time, coming so soon after his record move.

Leaving Porto in a big-money deal did not turn out to be the glamour move for which Maniche had hoped and he almost could not leave quickly enough.

"I am not well, nor is my family. I don't like the country, the championship or the weather," he said barely two months into his Dynamo career.

"I have already transmitted my dissatisfaction to my agent and now it is necessary to reach an understanding with Dynamo officials.

"I am not saying I am sorry, but if it were today I would have thought twice about leaving Porto. Money is not everything in life."

Maniche likes fast cars and during his time at Porto his `toy' was a Lamborghini Murcielago. The two-door, two-seat coupe fits comfortably into the supercar category and retails at around GBP 150,000. The roadster version has a top speed of 205mph and can do 0-60mph in 3.8 seconds. The word `murcielago' means `bat' in Spanish and one of these Lamborghini cars featured briefly in the film `Batman Begins'.

FACTFILE Name: Maniche Position: Midfielder Club: Atletico Madrid Date of Birth: 11/11/1977 Portugal caps: 40 Portugal goals: 6 Portugal debut: v Brazil, March 2003 Moment to remember

Maniche played a vital role in Porto's Champions League success, particularly in their quarter-final win over Lyon. Porto won the first leg 2-0 at home but the French were a different proposition in the return match. Maniche struck both Porto goals in a 2-2 draw that secured progress 4-2 on aggregate.

Moment to forget

Chelsea produced a thumping 4-1 win over West Ham last April to take a huge step towards the title, but it all came after a forgettable contribution from Maniche. The midfielder was at fault as West Ham claimed an early lead and then hit the crossbar when presented with a chance to equalise soon afterwards. All that happened in the opening 14 minutes and things got worse as he was sent off in the 17th minute for a bad challenge on Lionel Scaloni. The Blues were left to cope without him but seemed to manage comfortably enough.

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