Wolves’ Diogo Jota is ready to prove his family wrong as he prepares to dump Manchester United out of the FA Cup.
Ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final visit of United the forward admits his uncle and many others doubted his move to Wolves.
He joined from Atletico Madrid, initially on loan, last season before making a permanent switch for around £12million last year and helped Nuno Espirito Santo’s side to the Championship title.
But having swapped Madrid for Molineux the 22-year-old revealed even his own family questioned him.
He said: “Many people in Portugal criticised me – and Ruben (Neves). They were saying ‘you are going from a Champions League club to a lower division in another country, are you crazy?’
“I said, ‘No, I believe in the project and then, if everything goes well, like I expect, next season you have the reason’.
“Fortunately everything went well, and we are here now, and everyone understands now. Me and Ruben have improved as players and now no-one doubts our qualities.”
Asked where the scepticism came from, Jota added: “(The) public and newspapers, but I have family as well. Not criticising me, but asking, ‘Why are you doing that?’ I was explaining my thoughts at the time.
“Everything has gone well, so they are happy. My father always supported me, and the rest of my family, but my uncle tried to say ‘Why are you doing this?’ It is part of the game.”
Dad Joaquin and uncle Ricardo will be at Molineux on Saturday as Wolves aim to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1998.
Jota has scored six goals this season, all coming in his last 13 games, to help Wolves to seventh in the Premier League.
And he is ready to channel United favourite Cristiano Ronaldo to cause a shock, with the Juventus forward an inspiration.
He added: “Ronaldo is a reference not just for me but for all people because he’s a goal machine. We have to look at him to learn something. He’s Portuguese so he was already a reference.”
Unai Emery insists winning the Europa League is about more than just qualifying for the Champions League as he targets a trophy during his first season in charge at the Emirates Stadium.
The Arsenal head coach is more qualified than most to discuss the merits of the Europa League having won the competition in three successive years during his reign as Sevilla boss.
The Gunners became the sixth and final Premier League club to qualify for the quarter-finals of this season’s continental competitions as they overturned a 3-1 first-leg deficit to beat Rennes on Thursday night.
A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace and a second Arsenal goal for Ainsley Maitland-Niles secured a 3-0 victory which sent Emery’s side through 4-3 on aggregate.
They join Chelsea in Friday’s quarter-final draw, with Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United all in the last eight of the Champions League.
"My dream goes on - my dream is to retire with a trophy in my hands... there’s a long way to go but with performances like that, we can compete."— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) 15 March 2019
Let's make it happen, @PetrCech 🙌
While success in the Europa League is seen by many as, first and foremost, a route back into the premier European club competition, Emery knows it offers much more than that.
“The Champions League is very important but the Europa League grew up a lot and now is giving every team the possibility to play in the Champions League,” he said.
“In the domestic league, like here, we have six teams playing to be in the top four. Two teams are going out and the Europa League is giving us a big opportunity also to take one way to go to the Champions League.
“And also, it’s one title. I said to the players today, I am excited about this competition. It’s not just because you can get to the Champions League through this competition.
“It’s also because it’s one title and I think we can feel the possibility to win one title, doing this way with a difficult moment like today and playing also against big teams.”
Rennes had made the most of facing 10 men for 50 minutes of the first leg following the dismissal of Sokratis Papastathopoulos – turning a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 win.
While Sokratis was forced to sit out the second leg, Arsenal were able to call on Alexandre Lacazette after his three-match ban for a red card in the previous round was reduced to two games on appeal and, having already served both of those games, took his place in the side.
Rennes boss Julien Stephan questioned that decision – as well as another possible sending off for Lacazette in north London and Aubameyang being offside for the crucial second Arsenal goal.
“On the offside, it was very clearly an injustice, it was an error,” he said.
“That goal changed a lot of things. Regarding the Lacazette decision, the commission decided that his elbow against BATE was only worth a two-game ban.
“There was a tackle by Lacazette in the first half which was borderline, for which he got a yellow.
“Then he made a challenge on (Ramy) Bensebaini which was also borderline, but the decision didn’t go our way.
“There were quite a few things that went against us over the past couple of days. It’s a learning curve for a club of our level, we don’t have the power of Arsenal.”
Sarri faces the possibility of being paired with the team he left last summer when the quarter-final draw takes place on Friday.
While that would present a mouthwatering prospect for many, the 60-year-old is keen to avoid what he believes would be a tough return to the Stadio San Paolo.
Sarri, instead, hopes to delay a potential reunion until the May 29 final in Baku.
“I prefer to face them in the final. First of all, because it means we are in the final and I am happy with that,” said Sarri.
“And second, it means that Naples are in the final, and I am happy. You know very well my relationship with the city, with the people.
“So, for me, it will be very difficult to play against them in Naples.”
Chelsea progressed to the last eight of the competition with a thumping 8-0 aggregate win over Dynamo Kiev, while Serie A club Napoli scraped past Red Bull Salzburg.
Olivier Giroud’s hat-trick inspired the Blues to a 5-0 second-leg success in the Ukrainian capital on Thursday evening.
Callum Hudson-Odoi celebrated his first England Under-21 call-up with the final goal, while Marcos Alonso was also on target.
Sarri insists France World Cup winner Giroud – who is now this season’s Europa League top-scorer with nine goals – remains a key member of his squad, despite his lack of Premier League action.
“Every time he has been on the pitch, he was able to play really very well,” said Sarri.
“As you know very well, Olivier for us is a very important player. I’m really very happy for him, and am really very happy with him.”