Diogo Dalot Man Utd GFXGOAL

Diogo Dalot exclusive: Man Utd’s in-form defender on living up to Jose Mourinho’s bold claim, English fans loving his slide tackles & INEOS’ impact at Old Trafford

Diogo Dalot grew up supporting Porto, so naturally Jose Mourinho always held a special place in his heart. The Manchester United right-back was only five years old when Mourinho led his boyhood club to win the Champions League, just two months on from his iconic knee slide celebration at Old Trafford after knocking the Red Devils out.

Fourteen years after that unforgettable triumph and having just broken into the Porto team himself, Dalot got the call to go and play for 'The Special One' at United in the summer of 2018. And despite the fact he had only made seven senior appearances, Mourinho gave the then-19-year-old the mother of all endorsements by calling him "the best full-back in Europe in his age group".

"It brought me more responsibility," Dalot tells GOAL in an exclusive interview. "Coming from Mourinho, a legend of the game, makes it even more special. The relationship that we had was something good for me, to have a manager that supported me like he did. Those words brought me more responsibility and I'm trying to fulfil that in my career."

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It might not have been the smoothest of rides, but Dalot is now well on his way to fulfilling Mourinho's prophecy. Mourinho was sacked by United just six months after Dalot's arrival and the full-back went out on loan to AC Milan two years later. When he returned, United had signed Aaron Wan-Bissaka for £50 million ($63m), putting another obstacle in between Dalot and a regular starting berth.

But now the Portugal international is demonstrating the potential Mourinhho saw in him, locking down his place as Ten Hag's first choice right-back and playing a key role in the club's resurgence during the second half of the season.