Five things you didn’t know about João Mário

Blessed with technical ability, footballing intelligence and great vision, the 23-year-old João Mário has joined UEFA Europa League contenders Internazionale eight weeks after helping Portugal to European glory. But how much do you know about the talented midfielder? Here are five things to get you started.

1. João Mário was born in Porto and signed for the Dragões’ academy in 2002. Two years later his mother relocated to Lisbon and he duly moved south, linking up with Sporting. Initially a defender, he was a midfielder when he made his senior debut in Italy as already-qualified Sporting lost 2-0 at Lazio in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League group stage.

2. A 2015 Under-21 EURO runner-up, João Mário played every match as Portugal triumphed at UEFA EURO 2016, culminating in the final against France in Saint-Denis. That was the same venue where, two years earlier, he had made his first senior appearance in a 2-1 Portuguese defeat.

 3. João Mário’s hero is Zinédine Zidane, but neither ‘Zizou’ nor Portugal favourite Rui Costa inspired his choice of the No10 shirt at UEFA EURO 2016. “It’s just a number,” he said. He wore No17 at Sporting, while opting for No6 at Inter.

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João Mário in action for Sporting in April

4. João Mário is not the only sportsman in the family. His older brother, 26-year-old Wilson Eduardo, plies his trade with Braga having returned to Portugal in 2015 after spells at Dinamo Zagreb and Den Haag. Younger sibling Hugo Eduardo, 21, plays futsal for Leões de Porto Salvo.

5. Inter’s new boy was on loan at Setúbal in 2014. Setubal, 50km south of Lisbon, has a special link for Inter fans as birthplace of José Mourinho, who led the Nerazzurri to UEFA Champions League glory in 2010. João Mário was in Porto’s youth ranks when Mourinho lifted the UEFA Champions League with the Dragons in 2004.

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