An interview with Ivo Pinto by Callum McFadden for Wireless.
You are currently on loan at Fortuna Sittard in the Eredivisie. How does the level of football compare to other leagues you’ve played in across Europe?
“My first impression is that the league is full of attacking teams who like to play attacking football. There are lots of goals in games, fast transitions and the game is attack-based.
“The fans don’t tend to worry if you concede as long as you win the game. Beautiful football rather than stiff football is what the fans want to see here and the league has many high level footballers.
What are your personal highlights from your time at Fortuna so far?
“I was asked to play at centre-back in a few games, which was a new experience for me as a right-back.
“To be honest, I thought I did well and really enjoyed my experience in central defence.
“I always want to help the team and being able to earn points for the team in that position meant a lot.
“It’s not usually the case that you can learn and adapt to a completely new position at 32, but I’m happy with how quickly I was able to learn. It can only be positive for me at the moment. ‘to come up. “
You started your career at FC Porto and were loaned out to the Portuguese leagues. Can you sum up what those formative years of your career were like?
“Football in Portugal was difficult and going from the Under-19 team to the first team was really difficult.
“We didn’t have the B team like they have now – it was reintroduced in 2012 after several years without a team – so I loaned out Gil Vicente, Vitória and SC Covilhã.
“I learned a lot from my time working with senior players and coaches on loan. It was a process that was crucial in my development.
“Going down to the second division helped me become a regular first-team player and helped prepare me physically and mentally for the battles that lay ahead in my career.”
In 2012, you joined the Romanian team of CFR Cluj who play regularly in European competition. What was it like playing in another country for the first time in your career?
“Cluj’s sporting director spotted me while I was playing in Portugal and I wanted to join the club because there were already several Portuguese players at the club.
“It helped me settle in quickly, especially since I was in my early twenties when I moved
“I was able to play in the Champions League for the first time and we beat Manchester United which was an incredible moment.
“Cluj gave me a platform to play at a high level and my career really took off after my time at the club.”
Your next step was Croatian football with Dinamo Zagreb with whom you won three league titles and a Croatian Cup. What was it like to be part of a team that was hugely successful?
“Dinamo Zagreb are the biggest club in Croatia and we were dominant during my first time there.
“In my second season, we went over 45 games unbeaten, which shows how strong we were.
“Dinamo also allowed me to continue playing in European football in the Champions League and the Europa League.
“I made great memories and friends at the club from my teammates to the club hierarchy.”
Your form at Dinamo earned you a transfer to Norwich City in the Premier League. Was it a dream come true for you to play in the Premier League?
“It really was a dream come true and I said it in my first interview at the club.
“I have to say that I also enjoyed my time playing for the club in the Championship as it is a very competitive league with a lot of games.
“Norwich opened the door for me to play in the Premier League and I will always be grateful. The club are a beautiful club in every way and I have the best football memories from my time at Norwich.
“I love the club to this day and playing for the club is something I will always treasure.
“I worked under Alex Neil and Daniel Farke who were both very similar in my opinion. Both wanted to play football the right way and dominate possession but could also be pragmatic when needed.
“Their expectations were clear of us as players and it’s no surprise that they’ve both been successful during their time in charge of Norwich. They’re both good managers and I enjoyed my time with them.
Finally, Ivo, I want to tell you about your international career. You have represented Portugal at youth level and played in several senior national teams. Can you put into words what it meant to you to represent your country?
“I have nothing but fond memories of my time with the national team. Playing for my country and representing the flag and my people is the ultimate honour.
“It was another one of my childhood dreams and even though I haven’t been capped at senior level, I will never give up. I know how difficult it will be for me because we have the best right-back in the game. world at the moment with Joao Cancelo and very good substitutes like Ricardo Pereria and Cedric Soares.
“I will always be happy with my involvement whether or not I get a senior cap because playing at youth level and being part of the senior team was a pleasure.
“Training alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and many other top players was an education for me. Their reading of the game is chilling and sets them apart as the world class players that they are.
“We had a special group under Fernando Santos, as was shown when we won the European Championships in 2016. I was in his first team when he took over as coach and I was a supporter in training in addition to being a player (laughs).
“Sharing the pitch, cafeteria, hotel and team bus with players of this caliber was special and those memories will stay with me forever.”