Preparing To Battle | Daniel Podence

Portuguese winger Daniel Podence takes us through his typical matchday routine, from waking up in the hotel to walking out of the tunnel in front of an electric Molineux atmosphere.

In the hotel pre-match

“It all depends on the time of the match, if it’s for an afternoon or evening game, I will wake up about 8.30/9am to do my usual morning routine; I have breakfast and then I usually do a bit of meditation and take a rest in the room. Then I will have lunch, sleep for 30 minutes to an hour, and then watch a few series because I like to watch them all the time. Then I spend about 20 minutes focusing on the match and what I need to do. Before we leave for the stadium, I have a snack and then we begin to prepare our game.”

Pre-match meal

“I always eat the same thing for every breakfast, lunch and snack because I want to have a routine that I follow. Before the game, my pre-match meal will always be pancakes, I have two, with half a banana, and strawberries and raspberries, with a little bit of lactose-free milk and coffee.”

The coach journey in

“We used to travel to the stadiums on the one bus, and I would travel next to Saiss, Conor [Coady], John [Ruddy] and Max [Kilman]. We would all be at the end of the bus, so it would be the four or five of us guys talking and laughing as well as having the focus on the game. But with the pandemic situation, we started going on two coaches, which meant I got really comfortable with nobody sat close to me because of the social distancing, so like to sit by myself now.”

Pre-match emotions

“I don’t normally get nervous before a game. I get excited to go to the pitch because from 8 or 9am when I first wake up, all I’ve been doing is thinking about the game. When the game is getting closer, I just get more and more excited about being on the pitch, being with the ball, dribbling and doing my stuff. That’s why I don’t get nervous, because it is what I want and what I’ve worked my whole life to do. When the game comes, I feel happy to be part of it and feel happy to play the game.”

Meeting the opposition

“It doesn’t matter who I’m playing against or whether they are friends or not, I don’t speak to anybody when I’m at the stadium. If they are my friends from Portugal, it doesn’t even matter if they are one of my best friends, I don’t speak with them because I want to have my mind clean and not have any distractions at all. I have to focus on the game, but after the last whistle, I can speak to them and enjoy our friendship and our time together.”

In the dressing room

“In the home locker room, my seat is in the corner between Neto and Neves. It’s the Portuguese corner, so it’s like being back at home! From my seat, I can see everyone, I can feel comfortable and I think it’s a fantastic spot to be in. I can feel everybody, I can see in their eyes how they are, how they feel, so that’s perfect for me.”

Pre-match music

“We have music on in the dressing room, but I prefer to listen to my own music. I will put my headphones on and listen to what I want without people saying that my music is not good! I can be myself and listen to what I want to, which will help me focus on what I need to do on the pitch. I like all kinds of music, America, Spanish, Brazilian, Portuguese – everything, but before the game there are specific Spanish songs I like to listen to because it makes me feel more ready and more alive. If I’m not listening to Spanish music before a game, I don’t feel ready.”

Rituals before the game

“I have some superstitions. One of them is the same music every game, and the food, I always eat the same food. I always take a nap when the game is late in the evening, and in the dressing room, I’m always concentrating on cutting my nails because I’m addicted to biting them. I always have to clean my teeth before I go out onto the pitch as I want to feel fresh. I have two or three more as well, but these are the main ones.”

The teams are in

“I always have a look at the opponent, but not when the teams are announced. Usually, two days before I study how the opponent will play because I know how the teams in the Premier League play because I watch every game and every team. Normally, I know already how they play, so I don’t need to focus so much on that before our game. Individually, the day before I will look at who I am likely to face and what I have to do, but on matchday, I just focus on myself.”

In the tunnel

“During the lockdown, I missed the atmosphere so much. When I’m in the tunnel and the game is getting closer and closer and you can hear the supporters, it makes you feel alive and it makes you feel happy because it’s the time I’ve been waiting the whole week for. Listening to the crowd screaming, it makes me feel so happy and motivated to do something special.”