Football

Diogo Jota: Cristiano Ronaldo was my idol

Liverpool forward Diogo Jota admits the exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United made a fellow Portuguese his idol, with the Reds star using a five-time Ballon d'Or winner as an example to follow.

Liverpool forward Diogo Jota admits the exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United made a fellow Portuguese his “idol”, with the Reds star using a five-time Ballon d’Or winner as “an example to follow”.

Jota is hoping to figure alongside an illustrious countryman when the defending champions kick off their Euro 2020 campaign against Hungary on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old, who impressed during an injury-hit debut campaign at Anfield in 2020-21, has the perfect role model when it comes to forging a memorable career of his own, with Ronaldo continuing to set the standard for those around him despite now being 36 years of age.

Jota has told FourFourTwo: “Cristiano was my idol – I saw him playing at the highest level at Manchester United, winning the Ballon d’Or and other awards.

“Being Portuguese, I’ve always looked up to him as an example to follow.

“When I made my international debut against Lithuania in November 2019, I came on as a substitute for him, which made the moment more special for me. I can only be grateful to have the opportunity to share a dressing room with him.”

While Jota has the chance to work with an iconic player at international level, he is also learning from one of the best coaches in the business with his club side.

Jurgen Klopp has established a reputation as one of the finest tactical brains in world football, with the German delivering Champions League and Premier League glory to Liverpool.

“He’s exactly the manager that he appears to be – very communicative, and he enjoys being close to the players,” Jota said of his domestic boss.

“He will send you a text out of nowhere when you’re relaxing on the sofa at home. It’s the sort of thing that had never happened to me, and that surprised me in the most positive way. It’s just one of his great assets.

“Before signing the papers, I had a video call with him. I don’t think he was expecting to convince me, because I was already convinced.

“He’s a coach who I admire and had been following for a long time, so this was a unique opportunity in my career and I couldn’t afford to lose it.

“We usually say that we don’t have to think twice. In this case, I didn’t think once – it was a no-brainer.

“I was very well received by everyone at the club, which certainly helped me.

“I’m close to the Brazilians, especially Fabinho because of the language, but I also have a good relationship with Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

“Liverpool play offensive football, which gives me more chances to score. It’s up to me to take advantage of that.”

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