Liverpool star Diogo Jota has said Cristiano Ronaldo was his hero when he was growing up in Portugal.
Jota has been one of the signings of the season so far, scoring nine goals in 15 appearances for Liverpool since his summer move from Wolves.
Although many players take some time to adapt to a bigger club, the 23-year-old has quickly taken to life at Anfield. He credits head coach Jurgen Klopp as a major reason for his early success.
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“When you reach a new club, having an open mind is key to be able to adapt as quickly as possible,” Jota told The Athletic. “With the season underway already, it was up to me to find a way to get into the team and not the opposite. That’s what I did with the help of Jurgen.
“He’s a fantastic manager who took care of me. When I first arrived, he had a meeting with me and he explained how the team works. Then it’s down to the player to try to learn as fast as you can and to prove to the manager that you can be an important player for him on the field."
Jota developed his love for football at an early age and especially remembers Portugal's run to the Euro 2004 final, when they were defeated by Greece. Leading the Portuguese at the time was a teenage Ronaldo, a player Jota says became his idol as a kid.
“My earliest memories are from the 2004 Euros when Portugal reached the final and unfortunately we lost," Jota said. "I was seven and I remember it well. Football has always been my passion.
“Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. At that time, he was 19 but he was already playing at the Euros with so much quality. During my childhood, he was at Manchester United and Real Madrid. As Portuguese guys, we always looked upon him as our main reference.”
Because of his exploits at club level, Jota has now earned the chance to play alongside Ronaldo with the Portugal national team.
Jota has become a regular for Portugal since his debut in November 2019, earning 10 caps and scoring three goals.