Last season had its frustrations for Lucas João… injured on New Year’s Day, returning after lockdown but picking up another problem in his first game. So a hat-trick on the opening day of 2020-21 was cathartic.
“It was an amazing feeling to be out there,” reflected João. “Thanks God and thanks to the team we achieved what we want. The team helped me to score the hat-trick – without them, it is impossible!
“The time I spent off was very important to allow me to come and do what I did today.
“Thanks to those people who helped me out. They did a great job. Now I am back on the pitch to do what I want to do, what I love to do. I hope that I can help the team as much as I can.”
And the perfect hat-trick, no less.
Reading trailed to a Jevani Brown goal, but João headed in a pinpoint delivery from Felipe Araruna on the cusp of half-time.
Then he netted with his right after the break as Michael Olise slotted a ball through, and before tucking in with his left after combining with Michael Morrison in the box.
“These are the things we work on day by day,” continued Lucas. “Felipe put in an amazing cross – I got into my place as a striker to finish.
“Michael Olise will be a very important player in the way we play. He is a talented kid and he can change a game. Today he showed how important he is. Hopefully he can keep finding me!
“For the third goal, Morro was shouting my name… so I gave the fake pass, and turned and shot! That helped me to get space, getting the shout from Morro.”
And even though he grabbed the headlines, he had a special mention for three more Academy-graduate debutants – Luke Southwood, Ethan Bristow and Nahum Melvin-Lambert.
“This is a club with a great Academy. The young players need to feel like they can play in our team, because they work with us every day. As soon as they get the chance, they need to do what they did today.
“On the pitch, we didn’t feel like they were ‘young players’ – it felt like we were all together. This is the most important – well done to them.”