My favourite player: Diogo Jota the one to watch for Wolves

When asked to write about my favourite Wolves player, there were a fair few candidates.

Diogo Jota of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Diogo Jota of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Brought up by a family of old gold followers, my first games at Molineux came in the early 2000s, and someone who instantly jumped out to me was Kenny Miller.

The Scot had a handy turn of pace and, most importantly, he could finish. A top talent.

Then, as the years progressed, another centre forward became my favourite – Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.

Talk about a natural finisher, Ebanks-Blake was born to score goals by the bucketload – as evidenced by his back-to-back seasons as Championship top scorer.

Fancying myself as a striker growing up, Ebanks-Blake – even though my build was very different from his – was the one I tried to mimic.

He could get shots off so quickly and used every inch of his frame to his advantage to hold off defenders.

And while he was not the quickest over 20 yards, he could spin past his marker in a flash – his stunner at Charlton (you know the one I am talking about) perfectly encapsulating all of those qualities.

To this day – despite the many magical moments from Ruben Neves – that is my favourite Wolves goal.

But in terms of a favourite player, Ebanks-Blake – cruelly struck down by injuries later on in his career – is just pipped to the post by one of the current attackers.

It is not Raul Jimenez either. After all, I cannot think of anyone who has provided me with as much joy as Diogo Jota.

Jota in action against Liverpool (AMA)

The Portuguese is the best dribbler I have ever seen live – let alone for Wolves.

He slaloms past defenders at such style and speed, unlike any other player.

His part in the winner at Tottenham, just before football was suspended because of the outbreak, was mesmeric.

An audacious turn left Lucas Moura rooted to the spot in frustration before Jota brushed off Serge Aurier, skipped past Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier and fed the ball to Jimenez, who beautifully did the rest.

When the 23-year-old is at full flow, he is unstoppable.

Of course, any player is capable of going through blips, and Jota has gone through some significant dips in form.

In the early stages of last season, for example, nothing was coming off for him.

After finishing as the Championship top scorer, he seemed to be trying too hard.

Jota had a similar – albeit shorter – stint earlier this term, too.

But those dry patches, strangely, have made Jota all the more intriguing.

You end up going on a bit of a journey with him, longing for his return to full confidence.

And when he does, it is all the more delightful to witness.

Maybe I got a bit carried away, but I have given Jota two 10/10 ratings this campaign.

The first was when he came on against Besiktas in the Europa League and – in the space of just 11 minutes – scored a hat-trick.

Jota blew the Turkish side out of the water, his presence lifting Wolves to an entirely different level.

He has been that man so many times for Wolves over the past few years, as well.

When things have not been falling for Nuno Espirito Santo’s charges, Jota has often been the one to drag them out of the mire with a piece of brilliance.

Perhaps slightly under the radar, he has scored 15 goals in all competitions so far this season.

Most of those have come in the Europa, and the other 10/10 I gave him was for another ruthless display in front of goal in the competition – following up his hat-trick against Besiktas with another treble, against Espanyol.

Jota scored a hat-trick against Espanyol (AMA)

Jota, when he is really feeling it, does things on pure instinct.

He finds the net before the keeper even has a chance to react.

Perhaps most exciting about all of this, too, is that Jota is only just getting started. He has so many years ahead of him.

The same can be said about compatriot Neves – neither have hit their peaks yet.

So, hopefully, both will do so as Wolves continue to be a Premier League and European force over the next several seasons.

The club’s resolve is bound to be tested for Jota at some point – what’s not to like about him?

But him in a Wolves shirt just seems right. A perfect match.

Jota is one of a collection of players to have shone during the Nuno era.

This break in the game makes you realise just how lucky we have all been to witness Willy Boly stopping attacks dead in their tracks, Joao Moutinho pulling the strings in midfield and Adama Traore tearing past full-backs week after week.

But Jota is the one I look out for. Neves, Jimenez and Moutinho are above him if you are on about who is the best at Wolves at the moment, but he is the most thrilling to watch.

Traore darts past defenders, but Jota weaves his way through them – getting through the smallest of gaps.

He scores goals, he is relentless and is a true team player – he will track back and muck in with no hesitation. Jota is my favourite.

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