PLEASE LUC AF­TER MY BOY, RON­ALDO

Jose helps Joao feel at home for club and coun­try

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Paul Ed­di­son

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.

Tran­si­tion

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

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

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