Interviews

Ruben Neves exclusive: Playing away in the Championship was tougher than the Premier League

Ruben Neves has told FourFourTwo how he found playing away from home in the Championship even harder than the Premier League  

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Neves played 42 games in the Championship for Wolves in 2017/18 and was named Fans’ Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, and in the PFA team of the year.

Wolves secured promotion to the top-flight in Neves’ first season with the midlands club after his unexpected move from Champions League outfit Porto for a club-record £15.8 million fee. 

Speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo in our April 2020 issue, in shops now, Neves, 22, revealed the challenge of playing in front of intimidating grounds in the Championship. 

“It’s not easy,” he said. “The competitive nature, the aggressiveness, the stadiums and the crowd. Actually, it’s why I think playing away in the Championship was tougher than in the Premier League, because of these atmospheres.

“Sometimes I tell my friends what a great league it is: very competitive, the fans, the atmosphere - it’s all so special.

"I often tell them that the Championship is one of the best leagues in the world. I absolutely loved playing in it.”

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Wolves finished seventh on their return to the Premier League in 2018/19, qualifying for the Europa League in the process, in the club’s highest finish since 1980.

Neves was signed for Wolves by his compatriot, and former manager at Porto, Nuno Espirito Santo. 

And the midfielder explained how important a role Nuno played in convincing him to swap elite European competition for the English second-tier. 

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“Nuno knew me well from that season at Porto and gave me the opportunity to join Wolves,” he said. “It was a difficult decision for me, because of that big move from playing in the Champions League to playing in the Championship, but I saw the project.

"I saw how motivated the coach was and I came here to do my best.

“I was really young and I knew that if things went well I could play in the Premier League. That’s the dream of any player.”

Read the full interview with Ruben Neves in the April 2020 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out in shops and available digitally from Thursday March 5. Our new magazine reveals the stars of the decade – the 50 wonderkids who'll rule the next 10 years, with an exclusive interview with Marcus Rashford, Erling Haaland, Vinicius Jr, Gabriel Martinelli and Reece and Lauren James – as well as profiles of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kylian Mbappe. We also chat to Steve Clarke and Mick McCarthy and Scotland and Ireland in the Euro 2020 playoffs, revisit the last time Liverpool won the league, and chat to Nobby Solano, Yakubu and Wes Brown about their careers.