Celtic Winger Jota Pays Homage to Portugal Legend Fernando Chalana
Jota’s lovely chip against Rangers in the first Old Firm game of the season that the Parkhead side won 4-0 was voted as the Scottish Premiership’s goal of the season. The former Benfica man has become an icon amongst the Celtic faithful after signing for the Hoops in 2022 for a fee of £6.4 million.
The 24-year-old has had a fantastic season scoring 14 goals with 11 assists, winning the League Cup and Scottish Premiership for the second season in a row. The awards and trophies may not stop there as he’s on the cusp of winning a domestic treble as Celtic face Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup final on the 3rd of June.
Portuguese legend Fernando Chalana, who passed away at age 63 in 2022, greatly influenced Jota and his development as a player. It takes a tremendous amount of confidence to score the type of goal Jota scored against Rangers in such a high-pressured intense fixture. The winger said Chalana gave him the confidence and belief to stand out from others when playing the game.
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“He was definitely someone who believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. That says a lot about such a quality player because he saw something [in me], and I just stick with his ideas. Like, he said to me, ‘Son, just be different from everyone else because football is becoming something really not interesting, and the ones who are going to thrive and be better are the ones who do different stuff and can solve problems when no one can solve them.’
“So, I just stick with those ideas. Inside the philosophy of the game, of course. And I try to express myself in the best way possible. There are always periods during the season when you need to find this creativity, and he was someone that shone every time he went onto the pitch doing whatever he was doing because he was just a special player.
“When they showed me his videos, I saw each time he was already doing some incredible stuff that no one else was doing. This says a lot about what he was as a football player, and, on my side, I just try to do my thing, and I just want to express myself in the best way possible. That’s what I try to do, and I think he will always be proud of that. That is the first point.
“After that, like with the trophies and the success, of course, he’s definitely proud and, yeah, I just want to keep on doing my people, my family, my friends proud and these people that have inspired me all over the years.”
Last August, Jota scored against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park days after Chalana passed away. Jota had his hero’s name written on his wristband and gestured toward the sky after scoring. After the 5-0 victory against Kilmarnock, Jota paid tribute to his former mentor, stating: “Every game I play, I will just play for him.”
By: Scott Bradley / @ScottBradleyX
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Alan Harvey – SNS Group