Diogo Jota: Wolves striker says ePL triumph was a virtual reality check

Jota: "Although we have a staff member near, it's almost up to us and one ball. So it's a hard way to begin this preseason because that's what it really is"

Diogo Jota scored Wolves' opener

Wolves star Diogo Jota says becoming a virtual football champion during lockdown has made him yearn to play for real even more.

The 23-year-old defeated Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in last month's final to win the ePremier League Invitational FIFA20 with a golden goal.

"We could see what it meant to the people watching us play in the ePremier League because they miss football and for us it's even harder because we were the ones who were actually playing!," Jota told Sky Sports News.

preview image 0:21
Wolves' Diogo Jota reacts to being crowned the ePL Invitational champion after beating Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in the final.

"I can't even remember the last time I passed a ball to anyone, so I'm not really looking forward to doing that.

"But training with my team-mates will be the first feeling that things are going back to normal. Playing a match again is something I am really looking forward to."

Jota has spent lockdown at home in the UK near his team's Compton training base, and the extra time to practise FIFA20 was clearly beneficial.

Diogo Jota wins the ePL Invitational
Image: Diogo Jota won the ePL Invitational tournament in April after beating Trent Alexander-Arnold

Now he describes the return to individual training with strict social distancing rules as effectively being the start of pre-season.

Also See:

"It's strange overall," he said. "These are unusual times for everyone but it's quite similar to what we have been doing since the start of quarantine because it's still individual training.

"So although we have a staff member near, it's almost up to us and one ball. So it's a hard way to begin this preseason because that's what it really is."

preview image 1:37
Diogo Jota is the inaugural ePremier League Invitational champion after a golden goal win over Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Wolves players are due to undergo daily coronavirus testing at the end of this week but Jota says they have not yet been fully briefed and are waiting for further information.

Meanwhile, the prospect of the Premier League returning behind closed doors is now looming large, and it's something Wolves have already experienced this season.

Their last game in March was the Europa League last-16 first leg 1-1 draw at Olympiakos.

Man City goalkeeper Ederson fouls Diogo Jota
Image: Ederson was shown the red card for a foul on Jota after 12 minutes in Wolves' 3-2 win over Man City

"I remember that game," says Jota. "Playing a Europa League game behind closed doors was very strange.

"No one wanted that but we are out of action now for such a long time that we understand that when we begin again it needs to be behind closed doors to avoid social contact. And although it's strange it's better than not playing at all."

And how he wants to continue running riot in both the Premier and Europa Leagues. Back-to-back hat-tricks against Besiktas and Espanyol were "one of the most important moments of the season and in my career because it's not an easy thing to do".

Diogo Jota of Wolverhampton Wanderers during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Norwich City at Molineux on February 23, 2020 in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. 0:35
Jota admits the experience of playing behind closed doors in the Europa League game at Olympiakos in March was a 'strange' experience

His season tally stands at 15, with nine Europa League and six Premier League goals.

With Wolves set to resume 6th in the Premier League, he pinpoints the 3-2 win over champions Manchester City in December as the highlight of the domestic season.

"Beating Man City was a big result at home because we were behind and it required a lot even with an extra man," he said.

Join Sky Bet Club and track your progress towards a £5 free Bet

Join Sky Bet Club and track your progress towards a £5 free Bet

Opt in and bet £25 or more before 23:59 on Sunday. Free bets credited by 7pm on Monday.

Around Sky