PLEASE LUC AFTER MY BOY, RONALDO
Jose helps Joao feel at home for club and country
A YEAR ago Lucas Joao was on the verge of a return to his native Angola, but with the help of mentor and Sheffield Wednesday teammate Jose Semedo he could be linking up with Cristiano Ronaldo at this summer’s Euros.
The rangy striker was in and out of the starting line-up at Nacional in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and was being targeted by Angolan sides Petro de Luanda and Recreativo do Libolo.
Instead he stayed put, racked up six goals in eight games to start 2015, and hasn’t looked back since.
A summer move to Sheffield Wednesday gave him the chance to work under countryman Carlos Carvalhal but, just as importantly, he has linked up with Semedo.
More than just a fellow Portuguese player, Semedo is also best friends with Ronaldo, right, which proved to be a very valuable asset when Joao, who moved to Portugal in his teens, was called up for his senior international debut in November.
“When he got called up I told Ronaldo there’s one of my boys in the team. I told him to look after Lucas,” explained Semedo.
“I know Nani as well and Lucas spoke to him quite a lot when he was there. “I think they talked about me a bit which is quite weird but it was good for him to know some people when he got picked.
“He’s a great player and deserves the opportunity, and having guys like Cristiano and Nani will make it easier.
“For the club in general it’s such a boost to have someone being picked for one of the best national teams in the world like Portugal.
“It’s really prestigious, not just for him but for the football club. When you see a Portugal team with players from Real Madrid, Monaco and Sheffield Wednesday, it’s always amazing.
“It shows that this league is good enough to have players from the best national teams in the world.”
Since his move, Joao has been a valuable source of goals for the Owls in their quest for a play-off place in the Championship, while he also scored in the 3-0 upset win over Arsenal in the Capital One Cup.
For a 22-year-old, his transition has been seamless.
And Semedo believes that is in large part down to the chance to work with one of his countrymen, as part of the Portuguese contingent at Hillsborough.
“Since Lucas arrived at Sheffield Wednesday, I have taken him under my wing,” added the 30-year-old.
“He’s my boy. He’s a very good guy and very humble.
“He has his feet on the ground. He’s done a great job for us since he arrived at the club.
“It’s been important to help him because it’s not easy as a foreign player coming in but having a Portuguese manager definitely helps there.
“When you arrive in a new country communication is so important and if you don’t understand the instructions you can struggle.
“I think that’s part of the reason that he’s been so tremendous with us and has made such a positive impact. He can understand exactly what the manager wants from him.
“Now he’s got a great opportunity with Portugal and hopefully he can take it by continuing to play well for us.”
SHOOTING STAR: Lucas Joao fires in an effort against Nottingham Forest and, inset, nets against Arsenal
BIG PAL: Jose Semedo has helped Lucas Joao adapt to life in England