Adama Traore says coach Nuno Espirito Santo is taking him places after finally unlocking his potential and making one of the most feared forwards in English football.
Traore was discovered at Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy in 2004, where he trained with the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta before making a surprise move to Aston Villa in 2015 for £7million.
After just a season at Villa Park and the club relegated, he moved to Middlesbrough where he first worked with Aitor Karanka and later Tony Pulis, before joining Wolves for a club record £18m in the summer of 2018.
He has not looked back since.
“Nuno has been a massive figure for me,” said Traore. “It’s the confidence he gives me.
“From the first day I came to wolves he just made me feel that he believes I can take on any player and make them struggle.
“That is massive for a player and maybe you think it’s just me but if you ask any of guys they will tell you that the confidence of the manager is as important as the training you go to on a daily basis.
“A lot has changed for me but the football ability has always been there it’s just a little bit of adjusting. The coach, food, my teammates helping me out a lot and also just the attitude to keep working because when you continue working hard everything eventually falls into place.”
Most footballers have pictures of their wives, kids or themselves as the screen saver on their phone but for Traore, it’s the picture of a player he adores and grew up watching from close quarters during his time at Barcelona, Ronaldinho. According to him, there will never be another player like the Brazilian magician.
“My idol was Ronaldinho, he was at a different level to anyone and I grew up watching him and wanting to be like him. There will always only be one Ronaldinho.
“When he came in he changed everything. Before him Real Madrid used to win everything. They had the galacticos where they had all these top players but he came in and changed that and said we can beat these people. That changed everything at the club from top to bottom.
“I was at Barcelona but I didn’t get to train with him but I remember I used to go in just to watch him train and he was in a different world to everyone.
“If you ever know what magic is, Ronaldinho was the definition of Magic. Every moment he touched the ball you knew he was going to cause havoc.”
This season, Traore’s mother, Fatoumata – a pillar in his life – has been ever-present at the Molineux.
A 100m runner during her youth in Mali before migrating to Spain, she has instilled confidence and an attitude of hard work which he believes has been central to his recent success.
“One thing she thought me was belief and that I should never lose it. She said opportunities will be limited but if I focused and worked hard and if my mind was clear, then I would get everything I wanted.
“She said it was just about time and most of the time I have seen that people don’t want to put in the work. They just want everything now.
“In life you have to focus on your work and don’t think about the end before you get there. Before you know it everything will come.”
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