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Joao the joker in the Wolves pack is laced with fun

He’s Wolves’ joker in the pack who is such a good footballer he plays without his laces tied up.

His latest prank is to chuck cold water on his team-mates as they’re soaking under a hot shower.

Oh, and he uses words like irreverence, chemistry and improvise. In what for him is a foreign language.

If you think Joao Moutinho is impressive on the pitch, if anything he is even more engaging off the park, which is something when you consider his contribution to Wolves this season is no laughing matter.

Captain Conor Coady says: “The first training session we had, he came out without his laces, which I found unbelievable. It was as if he had got slippers on.

In the changing room, he speaks to everybody, but he’s always messing about too, he’s like a kid.

Him and Ruben Vinagre get up to all kinds of things. They’re like father and son! Vinagre was at Monaco with him and he looks after him. But he absolutely batters him as well!”

Such is Moutinho’s level of skill that when Coady was asked if he was awestruck at seeing the midfielder’s lob and pass ‘around the corner’ that bamboozled Jesse Lingard in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat of Manchester United, he just shrugged his shoulders and laughed: “He does that to us on a daily basis!

It’s not just people like him (Lingard). He does things in training that you wouldn’t believe.

Just to look at him and learn from him on a daily basis, it’s brilliant for us, especially the young boys.”

As for him being the joker in the pack, Moutinho is happy to plead as the guilty party.

This is true. I joke all the time, I try every day to be happy and to give what we want with happiness and a smile.

It’s just small things for the group, to make people laugh. Pranks, sometimes.

Not big things, but things you can smile at. In the shower, we have the hot water so we turn the cold water on so all the players need to run (out). It makes us smile and we try to do something happy every day.

It is not only me – Conor, (Romain) Saiss and Ruben (Neves) – all the players are the same. That is why I think we are a very good group.

We enjoy what we do a lot and, for me, playing football is the best work in the world. I don’t know how many players or boys want to be in my position.

I try to live my life with happiness and with a smile on my face – if I get rid of my beard will I look 22?!”

So how does head coach Nuno Espirito Santo view this midfield prankster?

Of course, he does it too,” said Moutinho. “When we need to work, we work, but when we do something (funny) he does it with us to be inside of the group. That’s what’s happened here.”

With such a jovial atmosphere in training, it’s little wonder Wolves are going so well.

So what is it about Nuno? “He is a very good manager and a very good person,” said Moutinho. “I think what we do as players, he does like a coach. He tries to teach us all what we learn, having played himself in the last 20 years.

It’s important as a coach, when you have played football then you coach, that you know sometimes what the players need.

He knows a lot about football – of course tactics, and these kind of things. But I think the chemistry he tried to put in us is very good.

He’s a very good coach and he knows a lot, and that’s why we’re a very good group and have done all the things we have done already.”

Moutinho has previously said he would like to play until he is 40, if his legs will allow him. But the 32-year-old admits he would like to have a go at coaching in the future.

If I can do more in 20 years, I will! I’m sure my legs will not allow that,” he said. “But when I feel this spirit, feel that clubs want me, they have a good project, these things give me a lot to continue.

I continue to do my best to help the club and my team-mates wherever I can. After I finish playing football I want to be a coach.

I am going to try it, but I live day by day, and the most important thing now is to be focused and to be playing football.

What I enjoy doing is playing football. After (I retire) I will have time to think about other things.”

Moutinho hasn’t started his coaching badges yet but says he is keen to stay in England, his daughters Lara and Victoria (three and 10 respectively) having learned the language in an international school in Monaco, where he played previously.

Stay in England? I think so, yes. I have this year and one more year under contract,” he said.

We never know. I am enjoying it at Wolves and the Premier League. I stay here more and more years.”

Moving from the billionaire’s playground of the yachts of Monaco to the down-to-earth lifestyle of Wolverhampton would seem to be a sharp contrast, but Moutinho is happy with what he feels is a friendlier, more down-to-earth lifestyle.

Monaco is good but there is not too many things there. It is small but it is good,” he said.

I have been to London, of course, and it’s big. You can’t do it in only three or four days. To know it better you need five days.
“I go to London, Birmingham and Manchester because I have friends there and when I have a day off, I go with my family too.
“The weather sometimes doesn’t help but when I came here, the people were so kind.
“For example, in Portugal you sit in traffic and you give someone a space and they say nothing. Here all the people say thank you.
“I think they are very kind and it’s easy to settle here. Today it’s raining but it’s not so bad.
“It’s good to be here, my family likes it, my daughter loves her school and I love the play here in the Premier League.
“If my family are good I will do my best and think what is only important for me and at the moment it’s the game.”

Moutinho added: “The most important thing for the kids is the school. They have friends in the school and they need to change. They don’t have friends now, that is what they ask more about.

But I think it is good. It is important for me. For me it is most important for my daughters to learn English.

English is the language everyone talks. They were in an international school and my oldest daughter speaks English much better than me.

I have two girls, nine and three, Lara and Victoria. My oldest wants to play football. My wife doesn’t like it too much, but I say ‘if she wants to, she can’.

Sometimes after training I will stay on a little bit, but the spare minutes or days I have, I try to enjoy them with my family, with my girls, because it is important to stay with them as we don’t have too much time with the family.”

Moutinho’s English is almost on a par with his football, evidenced by his theory on the blend of youth and experience for a successful team.

It (experience) is important but sometimes, the irreverence of the youngsters is good too,” he said. “If you have a mix we can achieve something. That is what we have here in Wolves.”

Moutinho has won Portugal’s main knockout, Taça de Portugal and reached two Coupe de France finals in France with Monaco.

He is aware the FA Cup is bigger in this country than domestic cups abroad.

I think here the cup competition is more interesting, bigger history than in other countries,” he said.

The English players know more about the FA Cup and they try to explain what the FA Cup is about.

To play at Wembley is very good. We try to do our best to win. But it is one more competition. If you put too much importance it is more pressure on you. We don’t need that.

But of course if we can we will try to win it. It will mean a lot for me and the club and fans.”