Making It Pro with Ruben Neves: Wolves midfielder highlights Andrea Pirlo influence on career
Portugal midfielder reflects on playing in both the Championship and Premier League with Wolves and training with Cristiano Ronaldo
Last Updated: 01/05/20 7:44pm
Ruben Neves talks us through what it was like going from a wonderkid to captain at Porto, his idols growing up, and what it is like to be a team-mate of Cristiano Ronaldo...
The Portugal international is focusing on the present, and when football returns, he is determined to help his current side Wolves break into the Premier League's top four.
But as we await news on when, and if, the 2019/20 season will resume, the former Porto midfielder sat down with Soccer AM's Adam Smith to reflect on his career, in association with EA Sports FIFA 20.
What are your earliest football memories?
The first big memory I have was Porto winning the UEFA Cup and the Champions League. After that, I just wanted to play football.
I played every day in the garden with my cousins and my friends and in the street. My mother would always be mad with me because we used the flower pots in the garden or shoes as goal posts.
Which player did you look up to?
Andrea Pirlo - he was the guy who played in my position so he was someone to follow. The calm and the confidence that he showed on the ball as a player - it's not easy to be like that at the highest level.
Playing in the middle of the pitch with pressure coming from everywhere, you need to be able to think fast, and Pirlo was always calm and was a great thinker in the game. I'm trying to do the same in those aspects.
What was it like as a youngster at Porto's academy?
In that period, I just wanted to enjoy - I never thought I'd achieve the level I am now. I just wanted to play with my friends at eight. Of course at Porto, you want to win every game, but until I was 12, I just thought about enjoying and improving.
What did you do when you first became a pro?
I didn't [have a party], I just spoke to my family and friends. Of course, I was really happy. They congratulated me and I told them I would do everything I can to achieve the highest level in football.
I always felt ready and I prepared myself really well at the academy. The maturity that I had at a young age has helped me, I always watched and tried to learn from the older players. This helped me a lot when I reached the first team at Porto.
How tough was it to leave Porto?
It was a tough decision because I was a Porto player, I was in my country and I was playing in the Champions League. But in my last season with Porto, I didn't play so much, so I needed to think about myself and my career.
When I spoke with Wolves, I really liked the project, the ambition. Unfortunately, it's turned into one of the best decisions I've made in my career.
How big a role did Nuno play in you joining Wolves?
He was a big factor. Nuno was my last coach at Porto, and then he called me to say that he wanted me to go with him.
He's a really relaxed person who doesn't speak too much outside of the pitch. He just likes to rest and spend time with his family. He's always thinking of tomorrow and what he can do to help the team.
How strong is Adama Traore?
We normally do a strength session, but I can't explain Adama Traore's strength. We have a squat machine... and he's broken it. It's unbelievable!
It's not normal. We don't see him going to the gym, we just see him doing the normal. We just see him doing the normal activation exercises.
Which is your favourite PL ground as a visiting player?
I would have to say Anfield. The noise and that stand behind the goal, the Kop, when they start singing, it's really loud.
The whole stadium goes with the team. Of course, it helps that the team is in a great moment, but it's the most difficult atmosphere I've faced in the Premier League.
What is it like to share a pitch with Cristiano Ronaldo?
I think he's the best - the way he trains, his professionalism, and the way he tries to help the young players to give us some experience. He's a really good guy outside of the pitch, but what impressed me most is the way he trains.
He never stops, and he always feels he has something he can improve. He's never happy, he's always wanting to improve and to achieve even more.