Nuno Espirito Santo knew exactly what he was getting when bringing Willy Boly to Molineux last summer. The pair worked together at Porto, where Nuno gave the defender his first taste of Champions League football.
Boly made his move to Wolves permanent after an impressive loan spell and now discusses what life was like in football before Wolves.
The young apprentice - Auxerre | 2007-2014
When I went to Auxerre I was 15 so I was still at school and didn’t know if I’d be a professional player. It was very difficult because every summer some players left and you didn’t know if you’d be next. I was working over and over to develop as a player. It’s difficult because you see your friends leave and worry, but it was a good experience.
Les Blues bow - France under-19s | 2010
Of course, it was an honour to play for my country. My first objective was to be a professional and when I was there I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. For my family it was very good, but I told them it’s nothing. It would be different if I was playing for the senor team.
The big move - Braga | 2014-2016
This was when I left my country for the first time. I was 22 and it was a little bit difficult because I didn’t play so I started to learn Portuguese so I could understand the players. I asked what I had to do and they told me to learn the language. The manager left and a new one asked why I wasn’t playing and he said how I have the quality to play for him. That year at Braga was amazing, we qualified for the Europa League and finished fourth in the league.
Nuno and Porto - Porto | 2016-2017
I was a bit late arriving at Porto. When you don’t start pre-season with Nuno it’s very difficult because he works hard with the team at the start. It’s difficult to come and change the team, so when I joined on the last day I didn’t play. I played eight games but was working over and over because I knew from my time at Braga that you still have to work because it’s your job and the club pay you. If you still work hard you can help the other players. When Nuno left Porto, after one week he called me and told me I was talented and that he wanted to take me to Wolverhampton. I said how my dream was to play in the Premier League. He said how Sérgio Conceição was coming and that I didn’t play for him at Braga. He said at Wolves he could guarantee I’d play and that we’d go up, he was building the team around me, Neves, Jota and you know the rest.
Champions League minutes - Juventus v Porto | 14th March 2017
I only played one half. Maxi Pereira was sent off. We’d already lost 2-0 in the first leg and were 1-0 down now, so to come back is very difficult with one less player. For me, it’s more important to work in training to be ready for the game. When I’m working very good in training I’m not afraid about the game. Even if it’s a big team, we have a plan and if it doesn’t work I’ve still done my job.
This article first appeared in the Wolves versus Manchester City matchday programme, which is available around Molineux on matchdays for just £3.50, and also featured content with Nuno, Raul Jimenez and Joleon Lescott. Back issues are available in the Molineux Megastore and online now.