By Jack Skelton
JOTA may be Spanish for the Jack in a deck of cards, but the midfielder of the same name is proving to be an ace in the pack at Brentford.
While Spain and Portugal endured dismal World Cup campaigns in Brazil, an Iberian revolution was taking shape at Griffin Park, with the Bees signing four players from the region.
Jose Ignacio Peleteiro Ramallo, or Jota as he is commonly known, was the last to join after fellow Spaniards Marcos Tebar and Jon Toral, plus Portuguese striker Betinho, yet the 23-year-old has made the greatest impact so far.
It’s perhaps not surprising the talented Galician has settled into life at his new club so easily given the startlingly similar circumstances he found himself in at previous club Eibar.
While on loan from Celta Vigo, Jota scored 13 goals in all competitions last year, including a strike against Deportivo Alaves that secured Eibar promotion to La Liga for the first time in their history.
And, with Championship high-flyers Brentford looking to end a 68-year wait for a return to England’s top flight, the Spaniard insists he is determined to repeat the feat this season.
“Scoring the goal that got Eibar promoted was my best day since becoming a footballer,” he said. “It wasn’t an option
to stay though and I didn’t get an agreement with Celta Vigo to extend my contract. I only had one more year, so decided it was best for me and the team to leave.
“There are loads of similarities between last season at Eibar and here because no-one expected Eibar to go up and hopefully we can follow their achievement.
“It’s obviously going to help a lot if I get as many goals as I got at Eibar last season and I’m going to try to do that.
“It’s a hard division to play in, but this team is definitely capable of staying here and fighting for promotion.”
Although Jota’s two goals in 15 appearances this term may sound like a modest return, the midfielder admits he is still adapting to a physical style that reminds him of the fiercest Galician derbies between Celta Vigo and Deportivo La Coruna.
And after a disappointing 2012-13 season spent mostly on the bench at Real Madrid B, the Spaniard knows the level of motivation required to play a starring role.
“The game against Millwall especially was very intense, like all derbies are and in Spain it’s very similar,” he added.
“When I was at Celta Vigo and we played Deportivo, it was a battle and a very hard game to win.
“I also had a very tough season at Madrid B as it was the first season in my career that I wasn’t playing much, but that experience helped me to mature as a player and I learnt a lot. It was still a great opportunity to be in the second team of a club like Real Madrid as that doesn’t happen to many people in football.”
Forceful tackles from no-nonsense Championship full-backs are not the only barrier Jota has had to hurdle as he is still learning the language alongside Spanish-speaking Betinho, with the half-English Arsenal loanee Toral taking on translation duties.
Yet with all four Iberians living in the same building, Jota admits his transition has been eased with the comforts of home cooking and hearing his native tongue.
“I’m learning the language slowly but I’m getting better and it’s good to have Betinho alongside me to do the lessons with,” he added. “We all live together and it helps me a lot to be able to chat to all of them and enjoy the same food.”