Norwich City new boy Ivo Pinto hits the jackpot after swapping Champions League for the Premier League
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016
Ivo Pinto had to win a family argument to prove Norwich City is the perfect career move.
City’s new attacking right-back has swapped the glamour of guaranteed Champions League football at Dinamo Zagreb for a Premier League survival battle with the Canaries.
“My father told me, ‘You probably don’t play in the Champions League now.’ I replied, ‘No, father, you are wrong, now I play Champions League every week. The best teams in the world are here,” said the Portuguese defender.
“Every week we have big games, not just against Arsenal or Manchester in a one-off game. There is a lot of quality, a lot of fast players and I will grow up a lot as a player and a person because the culture here is all about football. It is hard to believe I am here. It will make me stronger. In Dinamo we always won the championship. It was natural. Even after the first game we knew we would win the title. That is normal. Here it will push me every day to be better as a player. The Champions League is the best competition in the world and of course I have some experience of that. At the age of 26 I have played against some of the best teams in the world and it has given me more confidence to feel that I can help my new team.”
Pinto, the first Portuguese player to play for Norwich, will watch the Canaries’ FA Cup tie against Manchester City, but there is a familiar face in the opposition ranks.
“I have a couple of friends here in this country, Fernando from City and Jose Fonte and Cedric Soares from Southampton, who I have played with before,” he said. “Cedric I know him for a long time. Of course I spoke with them and everything they said was, ‘go, you must go to England. Don’t think about it. It is the best league and the best country to play football.’ With these words everything was better.”
The 26-year-old fulfilled one ambition with a move to the Premier League and he hopes Norwich City’s successful Premier League quest could help him make a late bid to gatecrash Portugal’s Euro2016 plans.
“It is a challenge for me also. One of my other dreams is to play in the first team of Portugal,” he said. “I was called up before but I didn’t play. In the Premier League if everything is okay I think I have the opportunity. Six months can go fast, of course, but if everything is okay then maybe I can have one more dream realised, I hope. Now I can say I am in the best league in the world, if that cannot help me go to the national team I don’t know what will. I will work for that, I will never give up on my dream. Cedric plays in my position but it is good competition. Hopefully we can both go to the tournament as we are friends.”