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Wednesday, 10 February 2010 14:06

Mallorca captain Nunes plays down chances of Portugal call-up

Islanders flying high in La Liga

Jose Nunes is enjoying possibly his finest period since moving to Spanish football with Mallorca. As Captain of his team, Nunes has been a driving force behind the form that has seen the modest club enjoy a sensational 2009/10 La Liga campaign so far.

The former Braga stopper was handed the captaincy last summer following the departure of Juan Arango, and Nunes’ influence as skipper could barely have delivered better results. Mallorca sit in fourth place in the table, with a 100% home record from ten matches at the Estadio Oni.

Nunes has played the most minutes of any of Mallorca’s outfield players, and has contributed with three goals, the most recent being the winner in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Villarreal. The 32-year-old has seen plenty of changes in the four years he has been with the Barralets, but insists he is as happy as ever with the club.

“I must be the worst player of everyone because I am the only one still here,” Nunes joked when talking to Sport about the turnover of players since his arrival in January 2006. “All that has changed (since becoming captain) is that I wear the armband. But there are four veteran players and we use our experience to guide the young players at the club.”

The defender, who drew attention when celebrating his goal on Sunday by imitating cartoon character Popeye, says manager Gregorio Manzano has been a key figure in his longevity at the club, in the face of genuine interest from other clubs. “We have worked together for four years and he has demonstrated his confidence in me,” says Nunes.

“There were offers, but there was never an agreement and I never wanted to force it, because myself and my family are very happy here. Retire at Mallorca? Today my first choice is to stay, but in football everything can change in one day.”

With doubts over Pepe’s fitness ahead of this summer’s World Cup, Nunes is one of many central defenders who may feel they have an outside chance of making Carlos Queiroz’s 23-man party for South Africa. However, the Aveiro-born defender is reluctant to place any significant hope in a call-up.

“Well, I think Pepe will go (to the World Cup). I hope that he will, anyway. In my case, over the years the expectation has diminished. Furthermore, it would be disrespectful of me to say I should go. Whether I do or not, I hope Portugal will be champions.”

By Sean Gillen

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Comments (2)
great news
2 Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:13
These are indeed great news.Many Portuguese player outside from their mother land gain good confidence just in right time.
I wish RQ would do the same with inter and join the world cup sqad that going to feel the glory in RSA.
1 Wednesday, 10 February 2010 14:17
I've seen 2 or 3 games of Mallorca this season, and I can say that Nunes makes part of the sucess of his team. His being very consistent on defence, making no errors with a lot of precise taclkes. He made a great evolution these years.
At least, I think he deserves one call-up just to be judge by Carlos Queiroz and prove his quality on Pepe's absence.

Still about Mallorca, I hope that Bruno China can improve and play more aswell.

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