Diogo Jota has been speaking about his unconventional move to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Championship in 2018, and admits agent Jorge Mendes has been proved correct to take him to the then second-tier club.
Speaking to British publication FourFourTwo, Jota says he and his family had doubts over him leaving Atletico Madrid for the West Midlands club, while also looking ahead to the European Championships and reflecting on his earliest Seleção memory.
Jota joined Wolves on an initial loan deal ahead of a €14m transfer from Atletico, having spent the previous season with FC Porto in his homeland. Joining Nuno Espírito Santo’s side alongside Ruben Neves, Jota quickly established himself at Molineux and helped Wolves to promotion in his first season.
“A short while ago, I saw a Transfermarkt study that had the Championship as the sixth-most valuable league in Europe,” Jota told FourFourTwo. “The Portuguese league was listed fifth, so from that perspective you may say that moving to Wolves was a step back at that moment, but I found the Championship to be very competitive.
“But it was about the project, too – in my opinion, Wolves have got the right people running the club. Sometimes you need to take a step back to take two steps forward. In the end, things went well and it proved to be the right decision, even if it sounded a bit risky back then.
“I had an uncle who asked me why I was doing it, but he agrees with me now! I must admit that even I wasn’t totally sold on the idea when I initially heard about it from my agent, Jorge Mendes. He eventually convinced me, and now he says, ‘See how I was right all along?!’”
Don't forget Hungary - Jota
Jota, 24, has made a strong impression since joining Liverpool from Wolves last summer, albeit with disruptive injury midway through the campaign. With the domestic season coming to an end, attention will shortly switch to the international stage and Portugal’s defence of their European Championship crown this summer.
The English magazine asked Jota about his memories of the Seleção’s Euro 2004 quarter-final win over England in Lisbon, before inviting him to assess a difficult a difficult group for the upcoming tournament which sees Fernando Santos’ side drawn alongside world champions France as well as Germany and Hungary.
“That [Euro 2004] was my first footballing memory,” Jota recalled. “I remember watching the quarter-final against England – I was sat in the living room with my dad and my brother, and we were all so happy when we won. I couldn’t believe how Ricardo managed to stop a penalty with no gloves on. That was such a remarkable moment for me.
“This year? I always stress that Hungary are there, too. Remember, when we won Euro 2016, we failed to beat them during the group stage. We’ve been handed a very difficult draw, but the Euros were never meant to be easy. Regardless of that, we know the quality we have, so if we’re able to build a good team in the true sense of the word, I believe we’re capable of getting through to the knockout stages.”