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Jota admits Champions League football key to permanent Celtic signing

Celtic’s Jota keen on Champions League after signing five-year deal (Robert Perry/PA)
Celtic’s Jota keen on Champions League after signing five-year deal (Robert Perry/PA)

Portuguese winger Jota revealed the key part that Champions League football played in his decision to sign for Celtic on a permanent deal.

The 23-year-old moved to Glasgow on loan from Benfica last season and scored 13 goals to help the Hoops to a cinch Premiership and Premier Sports Cup double.

It was Ange Postecoglou’s first season as Celtic boss and the reward for the title win was a place in the Champions League group stages.

After weeks of speculation about his future, Jota signed a five-year deal with Celtic for a fee reported to be £6.4million and at his Parkhead press conference, he spoke candidly about the importance of Champions League football.

He said: “Champions League is probably the best club competition in the world.

“Of course it is always a trigger for a player to come and play in the Champions League, we have to be honest about that and I am no exception.

“It is something that I really like and everyone kept saying me, ‘Jota, it is something special so you better stay at Celtic’.

“I have already made my debut in the Champions League with Benfica.

“I know the atmosphere and the feeling but every club is different so here it will be different.”

Jota also spoke about the “amazing” experience he had last season in the context of his return to Glasgow.

He said: “The club speaks for itself and the experience I had last season was amazing so it was an easy choice to make.

“I am really happy that I am staying here, that’s what I wanted and I just can’t wait to develop more under the team and to conquer a lot of things.

“There is no moment when you just blink and think, ‘yes, now I am going to stay.’ It was just natural.

“During the week, the months, the year, I felt, ‘okay, I should stay here’ and I am really happy.

“I thought, ‘I am feeling good, I feel at home, this is the right place to develop so let’s do it.’”

For the Celtic fans who have taken him to his heart and who are delighted to hear the news about his signing, Jota said: “I just try to do my thing on the pitch which is why I am here.

“And what I can promise is that I will fight every day to honour the colours of the club and to fight for things, to be a better player and person because I want to achieve a lot of things.”

Jota also had a message for his former club Benfica, whom he joined as youth in 2007.

He said: “It was quite an nostalgic moment for me because I was there for 15 years. It was like a kid leaving home and leaving his parents.

“I guess it is like  (Kieran) Tierney going to Arsenal (from Celtic), everyone kept saying to me that, ‘yes, he has left home’ and it is the same for me.

“I am a bit nostalgic about that because I really love Benfica and my story with them will keep on and I am not going to say goodbye because I know one day I will go back.

“But I more than happy to join Celtic and this is what I really wanted so I am 100 per cent here now and to give my best.”