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Jota debut provides historic moment

Former journalist Steve Gordos reflects on a landmark moment on Thursday night, as forward Diogo Jota made his Portugal debut, alongside three Wolves team mates.  

Diogo Jota’s international debut bridged a 60-year gap in Wolves history.

When he came on to replace Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal’s 7-0 win over Lithuania at the Stadio Algarve in Faro it was only the third time Wolves have had four players in an international team.

The previous occasion was in England’s 2-0 defeat by Brazil in Rio de Janeiro in 1959.

It was four on the field again on Sunday, if only in the last five minutes, when Portugal won 2-0 in Luxembourg, Jota being denied his first international goal because Ronaldo is in hot pursuit of his 100th.

Portugal began the Lithuania game with two Wolves men in the line-up – goalkeeper Rui Patricio and midfielder Ruben Neves. Joao Moutinho came on for Bruno Fernandes on 72 minutes and eleven minutes later Jota was substituted for Ronaldo, who had scored a first-half hat-trick.

In Luxembourg only goalkeeper Patricio was in the starting line-up but Moutinho came on for Pizzi on 61 minutes to earn his 120th cap. Jota’s entrance to replace Andre Silva, came in the 70th minute while Neves was substituted for first-half goal scorer Bruno Fernandes in the 89th.

Jota set up the second Portugal goal when his spectacular mid-air volley was only partially stopped by Luxembourg keeper Anthony Moris. The ball was on the line and virtually in the net when Ronaldo made sure in emphatic style to grab the 99th goal of his international career.   

Norman Deeley, the diminutive winger from Wednesbury, won his first cap when England played in the famous Maracana Stadium in 1959, joining Molineux team-mates Billy Wright, Ron Flowers and fellow forward Peter Broadbent. Wright was making his 102nd appearance for England.

Flowers and Wright were also on duty the first time Wolves had four players in an international side – in a 1-0 defeat by France in Paris in 1955.

Flowers, then just 20, won the first of his 49 caps that day alongside Wright and 18-year-old Duncan Edwards of Manchester United in what was in those days the traditional three-man half-back line.

On his own admission, Flowers had a poor game and was immediately dropped. With a selection committee still having a large say in team choice, players rarely got a run of matches in which to prove themselves.

Bert Williams was in goal, having been recalled to the England side after a lengthy absence. Wright skippered the team and the fourth member of the quartet was Dennis Wilshaw, fresh from making history by scoring four goals in the 7-2 defeat of Scotland at Wembley.

Wilshaw is the only man to score four times in a full international between the old enemies.