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Wolves have a special place in Portuguese hearts

Wolves are becoming a global club – with Portugal now boasting a ‘special affection’ for them alongside the big six in the Premier League.

The club are keen to promote their brand in China when they compete in the Premier League Asia Trophy in July while the Under-23s are to play in the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens for the first time next month.

But many people in Portugal already have a special place in their hearts for Wolves because of the number of personnel at the club from the country.

Head coach Nuno Espirito Santo, backroom staff Rui Pedro Silva, Joao Lapa, Antonio Dias and Rui Barbosa and players Rui Patricio, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Diogo Jota, Ruben Vinagre, Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa and Pedro Goncalves all hail from Portugal. In addition, French defender Willy Boly has played for Porto.

Patricio, Neves, Moutinho and Jota are in the Portugal national squad and Vinagre plays for their Under-20s, while Goncalves is a regular in Wolves Under-23s team.

Today, Wolverhampton is not an ordinary club to any Portuguese that likes football and English football in particular,” said Portuguese journalist Tiago Marques.

There is always Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea fans, but everyone has a special affection for Wolves. There are many Portuguese players, and others who have played in Portugal, in addition to the staff who are also Portuguese.

In both Porto and Lisbon, Portugal’s two main cities, it is now usual for fans to gather in a bar to watch Wolves games, which would never have been the case before.”

Marques believes the future is bright for the European champions in Wolves’ hands, or rather their Portuguese contingent.

There are several players who are already important to the national team,” he said.

Of course, Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho are more experienced, but even Ruben Neves is already a cornerstone of Fernando Santos’s options.

I know we are far from seeing everything Neves can do – he will, over time, become better and better.

But that’s not all, there are more players coming through. Diogo Jota was the latest but it’s no surprise. Just follow what he has done, not only at Wolverhampton, but also on the route there with the Portugal youth teams.

Ivan Cavaleiro and Helder Costa have already had opportunities and it won’t be long before we see Ruben Vinagre having the same evolution.

They are great players with a lot of potential, especially Neves, Jota and Vinagre. I think the future looks promising for both Portugal and Wolves.”

Tiago Marques was talking in the FA Cup semi-final programme.