Hobbs | ‘Ruben will go down as one of our best players ever'

As Ruben Neves moves on from Wolves after six years wearing the Old Gold, Matt Hobbs has thanked the midfielder for his role in taking the club forward, both on and off the pitch.

Hobbs developed a close relationship with the Portuguese since taking on the role as Wolves’ sporting director, as the pair worked together with Julen Lopetegui to ensure the club’s survival in the Premier League for a sixth successive season.

With Neves now heading to the Saudi Pro League to join Al-Hilal, Hobbs has praised last season’s captain for all he has given to the club during his Molineux tenure.

On Neves’ impact at Molineux

“I look at it in two ways – how he’s been with me since I’ve come into my role and before that time, and also as a player.

“Overall, if you look at the man and the person that he is as well as the player that he is and the way he was around the training ground, he was great to work with.

“He will go down as one of our best players ever because he took Wolves to a different level. He was a leader and a big part of a great era for Wolves, so the club, the staff and the fans are really thankful for everything he’s done, on and off the pitch.”

On buying into the Wolves project

“When he left Porto, he was still very young, he was the youngest ever captain, got his debut under Julen, but he was brave. He wanted to come to England and play for us in the Championship.

“He played an instrumental role in getting us up and was committed to Wolves – committed probably longer than what he would have planned, but he really loved the club.

“You could see on his lap of appreciation around Molineux after the Everton game what the club and the fans meant to him. His emotion, his whole family’s emotion, they all really brought into the area, and they will be Wolves fans forever.”

On matching talent with attitude

“I would take a squad full of Rubens any day. Talent is talent, and there are a lot of footballers with talent, and there’s been lots of players who have come to the Premier League with all the talent in the world and it hasn’t worked out for one reason or another.

“When we looked at developing the squad in the January transfer window, it was all about personality. You have to find talented players when you’re in the Premier League, so that has to be a key factor, but not all talented players are going to work out.

“We’ve seen lots of very, very good players come to the Premier League and struggle, but then they move and do very well again elsewhere. The Premier League is a different animal so what players must have when they come into the Premier League is the right mentality, especially at a club like Wolves, with the levels our fans expect.

“And for me, Ruben has been the perfect embodiment of that, so I will be looking at bringing in more players like Ruben, but for the man he is as much as his talents as a footballer.”

On leading on and off the pitch

“When I came into my role, he was the first person I spoke to. He was clear that Julen was the manager that he really wanted, he was really keen on that, very vocal, and very positive about it, and actually played a role in Julen coming here.

“I had conversations with him about what we felt needed to improve, and the main thing was that we needed competition for places and to increase the depth of our squad. That was also something he brought up in the summer and he really agreed with what we were trying to do.

“This meant that, as captain, he was really part of the process of where we were and what it needed to look like, and he represented that short period since Julen’s been here.

“He played a huge role in bringing everyone together, everyone being aligned, and everyone having Premier League survival at the core of what we were trying to achieve and helped everyone buy into it.”