JOAO VICTORIA had never even played a proper game of football before he moved to Scotland
Now the Portuguese striker is fast becoming the hottest property in the Scottish Sun Lowland League.
East Kilbride FC ace Victoria, 25, is attracting interest from bigger clubs having slammed 13 league goals so far this season.
But the hitman had only ever played futsal — a variant of five-a-side — when he arrived in Glasgow seven years ago to start college.
And he admits it showed when he took part in his first-ever 11-a-side match for an amateur league team — and spent the entire game charging from end to end!
Victoria soon got to grips with the full-size game though and won a move to Queen’s Park before following Spiders reserves boss Billy Ogilvie to K-Park in the summer.
But he revealed: “It wasn’t my plan to come here and play football. It just kind of happened!
“Not long after I left school my sister, who was already living in Scotland, suggested I come over and see if I liked it — so that’s what I did.
“I used to play futsal back home and when I first came over here I was looking to play that.
“But they don’t really have futsal here so I had to play 11s, which I had never done before. In Portugal, young boys play futsal then eventually get to play 11s but I didn’t do that.
“My first game of 11s was over here. I joined an amateur club in Newton Mearns and to be honest I was all over the place!
“I had no positional sense, I was just going back and forward, back and forward and it took me maybe two or three seasons to get the hang of it.
“But I started to get better and I ended up at Queen’s Park for a while before moving to East Kilbride in the summer.
“I think I’m still learning now. Looking back, I wish I had come earlier so that I could have learned more when I was younger and I could have got better sooner.
“Of course I’d like to play at a higher level — it’s always good to learn something new and it would be good to do that at a higher level.
“But if it happens it happens. I’m just enjoying playing football to be honest with you — as long as you enjoy it, that is the important thing.
“Everything is going really well for me right now — I’m enjoying playing and I am scoring goals, so I really can’t complain!”
Victoria is just one strike behind 14-goal frontrunner Garry O’Connor in the race for the Scottish Sun Golden Boot award for the league’s top scorer.
And he admits he’d love to pip Selkirk’s former Scotland striker to the prize.
He said: “I’m delighted to be keeping up with him but I’m hoping to maybe go past him!
“We’ll see what happens. I’ll do my best but I won’t stop passing the ball or rush to try to get as many goals as I can.
“What happens will happen but it would be great to be the league’s top scorer at the end of the season.”
Victoria hopes to make a flying start in his bid to get his hands on another prize when The Scottish Sun+ Lowland League Cup gets underway this week.
Kilby are away to Edinburgh Uni on Saturday, just seven days after their 3-0 league win there.
Victoria — who hit a double in that game — said: “We’ve just played them so we know how they’ll set up and what they are like.
“Hopefully we can beat them again. It will be a tough game but it would be good to get off to a good start in this cup by playing as well as we did last week.”
TO CELEBRATE their sponsorship of the League Cup, Sun+ is offering YOU the chance to get your your first month FREE by going to thescottishsun.co.uk/goals.
There’s goals galore, Scottish and English highlights, award-winning videocasts with Sports News Editor Roger Hannah and a whole lot more.
Digital Sports Editor Phil Martin said: “The Sun+ team is delighted to back the Lowland League Cup.
“As part of our commitment to being the Heart of Football we bring our readers the best coverage of the SunSport Lowland League every single week.
“Now we can’t wait to report on what’s sure to be a dramatic weekend of action as the Sun+ Lowland League Cup kicks off.
“From the SPFL Premiership and the Barclays Premier League to the Lowland League, goals is what we’re all about.”