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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Jose Sa interview: Wolves goalkeeper on facing Cristiano Ronaldo and praise from Gary Neville as he reflects on his strong start to life at Molineux | Football News

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Wolverhampton goalkeeper Jose Sa was one of the signings of the Premier League season – and the best ever, according to Gary Neville when he presented his award at the end of the year. Monday Night Football. Sa pleases himself with praise.

He said, “I saw it.” Sky SportsA smile radiates from his face. “It’s good to see a legend, a man with a big name in football, speak for me. Of course, it has made me very happy because we are in the best league in the world, in my opinion.”

deserved recognition. Sa has played a key role as Wolverhampton have only conceded twice in their last seven matches. Only Manchester City now has a better defensive record in the Premier League.

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Sa was making the saves and his presence felt particularly proactive. His predecessor at Wolverhampton, compatriot Rui Patricio, had a century of matches with the Portugal national team. Sa is waiting for his first match, but the feeling among fans is that it might just be an upgrade.

“Roy is a very good goalkeeper so it was difficult to replace him, it was not easy at all. But we have a very good group here. They helped me adapt to the league, with football, and that not only helped me a lot. But it gave me confidence to help them too” .

Most importantly, the opportunity has come at the right time. Sa is 28 years old, he is a mature goalkeeper. “Maybe one year ago it would have been good too. But I think if I had waited another year, it might have been too late. It came at the best moment.”

Three seasons of European football with Olympiacos, winning the league twice, was of his own making. “Because I played a lot,” he explains. “It helped me grow because I needed to play, I needed that confidence. The years I’ve had have been so good to me.”

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They were decisive because surprisingly he hadn’t played a little earlier. At Benfica’s academy as a youngster – at the same time as Wolves boss Bruno Laage – he went to Maritimo as a reserve goalkeeper before taking on the great Iker Casillas at Porto.

“Even young goalkeepers teach you something because you never know everything, so you always learn. But, of course, Iker taught me a lot. He has been an idol since my childhood, so it was great to work with him. He was very good to me.”

Now Sa is ready for the lights by himself. With the help of Tony Roberts, the new Wolverhampton goalkeeper coach, his performance level rose. “Tony is a very good guy, a very good friend and a very good coach. All goalkeepers learn from him. I have improved a lot.”

Perhaps it is useful to delve into some statistics to emphasize the effect of Sa in wolves. He’s saved four out of every five shots on goal he’s faced from inside the penalty area, and he’s the best regular goalkeeper in the Premier League – and he’s not particularly close.

If this statistic is a bit misleading – it depends on the quality of the shots encountered – consider the data of the expected targets. These factors in the exact location and type of those shots and where they were directed at the target. Once again, Sa comes with a huge balance.

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These numbers indicate that SA prevented between four and five more goals than the average goalkeeper. He’s second in the Premier League after Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale – another summer deal that won a lot of praise, but cost it more.

These impressive shooting-stopping stats are only part of the story. Sa also ranks second for the goalkeeper’s accurate passes – breaking out of his streak to grab chances before they appear.

“Even before I came to the wolves, I loved getting off my target,” Sa says. “I love winning the ball when it’s played behind the defence. But here we work a lot on that because the coach wants the defenders to be high so I have to be there to help them.”

He is comfortable with the ball at his feet. “We train that every day. Always. I have to.” At times, he can seem too comfortable to please the audience. He admits: “I give the impression to people that I am comfortable. Inside, I have butterflies.”

But his distribution made a huge difference to Wolverhampton’s game, as it wasn’t all short passes. Those bouncing balls on the field became an advantage that throws the team on the field and helps provide a real counter-attack threat.

He doesn’t want to talk about N’Golo Kante’s unpunished handball that may have cost him an assist against Chelsea. “It’s always the same against us. It wasn’t the first time.” But he scored one against Southampton when Raul Jimenez raced for the winner.

“I think it was my first ever help,” he says, still happy. “I could have had two or three goals at Olympiacos but they didn’t score. Raul scored. I try to do different things. If I can help, I will try to do that pass when I can because we have players who can do that.”

Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa and his impressive stats
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These players welcomed Sasa into the group and it’s easy to imagine why he settled down so quickly. He had already played alongside Daniel Bodens at Olympiacos and was on the bench with Willy Poli when Ruben Neves made his last appearance for Porto.

“I also know many players here from the national team. They are great players and it was good to help me adjust to my new life here because when you have a lot of Portuguese players you can ask them about the rules here and they can help you.

“But even the other guys, they’re amazing. We have a great group and I think that’s reflected in the schedule and what we do because we’re like family. If I make a mistake, I have my boyfriend by my side. If they make a mistake, I’m there for them.”

“It’s the same with all the players. It gives me more confidence because I know they are always there for me. You need a good defense as a goalkeeper. Just like when you have a goalkeeper who can help you, it gives you more confidence in the defense too.”

“In the beginning, we were adapting because he was a new coach with a new strategy. But we are improving and happy with our progress.”

Monday January 3 5:00 p.m.

Monday, live Sky SportsThat will be tested when Wolves play Manchester United at Old Trafford. For Sa, it promises to be the first match against Cristiano Ronaldo. “I’ve trained with him but never played against him. It will be incredibly difficult.”

After spending three years in Madeira with Maritimo, Sa knows better than most that he will face a Portuguese icon. The airport there is named after Ronaldo, although Sa insists he has never visited the player’s personal museum at the marina in Funchal.

The match will serve as a reminder of how far Sa has come. “We want to win at Old Trafford. I came here to play in these great stadiums. That was the goal.” For one of the season’s signatures, the new year is also a time to reflect on how far he still wants to go.

He is outspoken about the goals of the wolves. “We can go to European competitions and we are fighting for that,” he added. His own ambitions are clear as he hopes to make his international debut at the overall World Cup. “It’s a dream. I’m fighting for this too. Maybe one day it will happen.

“Until then, we’ll see. I’m here to learn and to improve.

“I want to be better tomorrow.”

Watching the Manchester United and Wolverhampton match live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5 pm on Monday; Match starts at 5:30 p.m

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