Walsall Web-Fans track down Jorge Leitao to look back at the good times we shared, how they came about and the departure.
WWF – Zidane: Jorge thanks for taking the time out to speak to Walsall Web-Fans. Tell me, how did the move to Walsall come about? When were you first aware of Walsall’s interest? Can you explain to the fans how such a move is made? Had you ever heard of Walsall before signing for us? How was the club sold to you?
Jorge Leitão: I was playing for Feirense when a director asked me if i wanted to go to England for a week on trial in the end of the season, and i said yes off course!! But i didn’t know the name of the club, only when i got to England my agent told me the name of the club, it was the first time i heard about Walsall. So i start training the next day i start to know the club.
You were at University at the time before you signed for us, and had to make a decision whether to leave Uni or not to pursue a career in professional football. Was this an easy or hard decision to make?
It wasn’t easy at the beginning, but when i signed for Walsall i was very happy and soon forgot the uni!!! I just wanted to play and make the most out of it.
You seemed to settle straight into the team and British life very well. How does a smaller club like Walsall help a player like yourself make the transition into a new culture? We hear bigger Premiership sides have dedicated members of staff for such a job. How does a League One club the size of Walsall ease you into your new surroundings?
I had some help from some staff members, especially from Wendy (don’t know if she is still working for Walsall). Things like open an account in the bank, and other problems they soon resolved most of the problems, they helped me very much with everything, so i had a nice transition. The worst was leaving family behind, but as time went by i satr feeling better.
Your partnership with Junior was sensational, what would you say made it so special?
We have a good partnership, probably because he spoke the same language!!!! It wasn’t just that off course, we played the same kind of football, like me he had at first a bit of difficult to get in the English football, but after a while he start to adapt to the football, and then was much easier o play with him.
When I got thinking of your special moments at Walsall, a never ending list was quickly drawn up! When you look back what would be your top five most memorable moments on the pitch for us? Can you explain what made them so special to you?
Number one my first goal for Walsall against Kidderminster, for me was the start of the journey!!
Second the final of the playoffs, it was a great game that we won and got the promotion, it was a very special moment seeing all the fans supporting us.
Third the goals I scored against Charlton, it was the First game for Colin Lee, i wasn’t playing regularly, and he put me on the starting team, i was really happy.
Fourth, staying in the championship league in my second season, it was a difficult year but we manage to stay with a win against Sheffield United in Sheffield.
The last one, it wasn’t easy for me, its was the last home game i played for Walsall, its a moment i will never forget.
These are some of my memorable moments, because i had loads of good moments.
Your time at Walsall was certainly some our most successful years in our history. With that we’ve had some of our most talented players. Which players you played alongside really stood out? Equally which players do you remember playing against that you admired when walking off the pitch?
Playing with Paul Merson was really good, fantastic player. Playing alongside Junior, Pedro Matias, Zigor, Vinni, and many others.
Playing against Ravanelli, when he was playing for Derby County, David James when he was playing for West Ham, Peter Crouch when he was playing for Porstmouth and many others that i admire.
Your departure, to many a Walsall fan came as such a shock. Did you expect to leave in January?
No i didn’t. I had a proposition from a club in Portugal, it was around beginning of December, i took the offer because i was homesick at that moment. I talked with the gaffa Paul Merson, and he understood my feelings and let me go.
The last game before you went back to Portugal, I’ll never forget. Near 30 mins of songs for you, how does it feel to receive such a send off? I dont think we’ve ever seen such a send off like that at Walsall. Only a very special player would get such scenes.
I was so sad, because i was leaving a club that gave such good memories, that supported me from the beginning, and to see all the fans standing up singing my name, i start crying, tried not to!!! But I couldn’t stop, its gonna be a moment I will never forget, for me playing for Walsall was the best time i spent as a footballer.
After you left Walsall did you ever have a thought we may have been relegated when you left?
To be honest no, i left in January, there was plenty of games to be played, and i never thought that Walsall was goona be relegated at the end of that season.
After you left Biera Mar I have tried to follow your career but have found it very hard to do so not speaking Portuguese! Can you tell us where your career has taken you?
When i left Walsall i went to Beira-Mar, and we got promotion to the First League at the end of the season. Then I left Beira-Mar and went to Feirense, that was the club i was playing before I went to Walsall and played there till last season. Now I’m playing for a club called Arouca, its the same division as Walsall, and we still playing. We are trying promotion for the Second League.
Any plans for a career in coaching or management?
Not for now…
Do you still follow Walsall’s progress from Portugal, are you still in contact with any of your former team mates?
Yes i follow on the internet, and some times i talked with Pedro Matias, I lost most of the telephone contacts i had in England.
Will you be coming back to Walsall, I think the crowd would love to see you on the pitch before a game or during half time to show our appreciation?
I would love to go…and i want to go… and I will go some day.
Thank you ever so much for your time and memories Jorge, as I said we’d love to see you return to Walsall for a game in the future. We wish you all the best for your future.
Thanks for everything and the support. All the best.
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