THERE were perhaps three things that Jota wanted from the Champions League this season. First and foremost, he wanted Celtic to do well. Then, he wanted boyhood heroes Benfica to do well. And lastly, he hoped against all hope that the two teams wouldn’t draw one another.

As it happens, although Celtic learned a great deal from their experience at Europe’s top table and performed well at times, only one of those three eventualities came to pass, with Benfica storming into the quarter-finals of the competition with a thumping win over Club Brugge to set up a mouth-watering tie with Serie A giants Inter.

Jota is delighted to see his old team mixing it with the best teams that Europe has to offer, and he feels they are an example for clubs such as Celtic to follow in the future.

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“For me it’s always the same,” Jota said. “As long as Benfica win and they go through I’m happy. 

“They could play anyone to be honest. I’ll just be rooting a lot for them.  

“It says a lot about what Benfica is. It’s an amazing club. I’m just very happy for them. They are doing amazing this season. I can’t wait to see what they can deliver at the end of the season.  

“I’ve been a very passionate fan since the day I was born. I always wish them the best. I still speak with a lot of people at the club. 

“This is the project which Benfica is always developing throughout the last decade. It’s something unbelievable. It’s one of the best academies, if not the best academy, in the world

“It’s just a world inside a world. If you see the facilities over there and the work they do on the development sides, it’s different gravy. 

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“It shows many clubs that you can still do well in Europe. If you have the right mindset, get the perfect people to work with you, and a good direction, you can have a good project to develop and achieve good things. 

“Those are the things to look for because they are doing very well at the moment.”