The gifted Portuguese wide-man said early on in his time with the club – a 2021-22 loan switch from his beloved Benfica that gave way to a £6.5m permanent deal – his determination to make Kyogo Furuhashi feel at home would extend to learning Japanese. As the club’s contingent from that nation has swelled to five with Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate, Yuki Kobayashi and Tomoki Iwata now in the ranks, so has his command of their mother tongue. The 23-year-old’s polyglot capabilities extended by his claim to one language that may be considered more the lingua franca.
“Yes, definitely. I already know how to speak Japanese fluently … in all seriousness, I’m able to say a few things to the boys,” said the Celtic attacker. “I think they appreciate it. Everyone tries to understand each other. Of course Japanese is really difficult for us. But sometimes it’s just for fun. They know that we try to put them in the dynamic of our group if we try to speak a little bit of their language.
‘Of course we cannot formulate sentences and speak fluently with them, but as long as we know some basic stuff to make a good laugh I think everything is easier and it’s a good environment. I already speak Portuguese, English, Spanish, I can understand and speak a bit of French, I can speak some Russian and … I can also speak Scottish.”
There is nothing Jota enjoys more than talking all things Benfica, his first football love. A youth product of the Lisbon side, a first Champions League semi-final appearance for the two-time European Cup winners appears possible following their last eight pairing with Internazionale. Jota would see such progress as a deserved reward for the Portuguese leaders’ investment in their player-rearing processes. “This is the project which Benfica is always developing throughout the last decade,” he said. “It’s something unbelievable. They have one of the best academies, if not the best, in the world. It’s just a world inside a world. If you see the facilities over there and the work they do on the development sides, it’s different gravy.”