How taken Jota is by doing his thing for a club he joined at the end of the window – his season-long agreement including a £6.4million buy-out clause – was evidenced by his delight following a first goal in Celtic colours.
A strike against lower division opposition in the League Cup wouldn’t seem a moment to relate to his grandchildren. But his reaction to his opener in the 3-0 defeat of Raith Rovers on Thursday might be. Jota bounded across the pitch, racing to the corner and skating over the turf on his knees while pointing fingers skywards. It wasn’t any sort of rehearsed routine, he maintains, just a spontaneous outpouring.
“It was an unbelievable feeling. I was really hoping for this to happen, and fortunately it did,” he said “That [celebration] was in the moment, I don’t do that at home, that’s for sure. It was just natural, it was just me. The most important thing was that I helped the team with the goal, and then the celebration just came naturally. I’m really happy. And, woah, playing at Celtic Park is amazing, huh? I really like it. The atmosphere is very good. Everything that people have told me about Celtic has come true, and I just want to enjoy it as much as I can.”
Jota ended the evening with his ankle strapped up after limping round the pitch when being placed through the middle by manager Ange Postecoglou. He will hope to shake off any knock before Sunday’s cinch Premiership hosting of Dundee United with Celtic’s squad seriously depleted by injury. A calf strain in the warm-up before the Rovers clash led to yet-to-feature new Greek striker Giorgios Giakoumakis becoming the latest name on a Celtic casualty list that comprises captain Callum McGregor, top scorer Kyogo Furuhashi, James Forrest, Greg Taylor and long-term absentee Christopher Jullien.
Jota isn’t allowing himself to fret over any issues, instead content with his assimilation – a period in which he has shown his talents in the narrow Europa League defeat away to Betis and now in the home environs. He is convinced he can feed off the passions with which the Scottish game is infused.
“I’ve been here for two and a half or three weeks, and the process has been amazing. Very welcoming,” he said, refusing to get hung up on Celtic’s grim away form that sees six of seven matches on the road lost, while they are on a run of seven straight home wins. “I think game by game we are learning with each other. There are plenty of new players, we just need to fit in, trust the process, and deliver. I think football is universal. I came here to play football and this team plays football. Of course, there are plenty of differences between the places I’ve been like last year in Spain, or in Portugal the previous few years, but I just need to adapt. I think you guys here enjoy football a lot, and I was hoping for something like that, so I’m very happy to be here.”