Football helped Raith Rovers new boy Joao Victoria settle in Scotland

Joao Victoria in action during Saturday's friendly win over Stirling Albion. Credit - Fife Photo Agency
Joao Victoria in action during Saturday's friendly win over Stirling Albion. Credit - Fife Photo Agency

Last season was a strange one for Joao Victoria.

An excellent start for Airdrie eventually petered out under new Diamonds boss Ian Murray, who allowed the player to join Stranraer, where an impressive spell not only helped keep the Blues in League One, but also convinced John McGlynn to approach the player about coming to Kirkcaldy,

“There was interest from John at the end of last season,” Victoria said.

“He told me he’d been impressed by me when I’d played against Rovers for Stranraer, and he asked me if I’d be intersted in joining.

“It was clear that I wasn’t wanted at Airdrie for some reason, so joining Raith seemed like a pretty straightforward decision.

“Obviously Ian Murray had different plans, and all I wanted to do was play.

“Stranraer were interested and offered me the chance, and after speaking to Stevie Farrell, he told me I’d get games, which was all I wanted to hear and he was true to his word.”

Joao’s sister also stays in Scotland, and she was pivotal to his move here.

After initially struggling to adjust to his new life, the Portuguese native revealed that football helped him adapt to his new surroundings.

“My sister has been here for about 15 years now,” he explained.

“She came with her husband, and kept asking me to come across to Scotland.

“She felt it would be a great chance for me to get an education and meet new people. 

“I was young at the time and didn’t seem to have a lot of opportunities, so thought I would give it a shot.

“The first year was hard for me, as I didn’t know anybody, but once I started attending college, I started to meet people who played football, which really helped me settle in the country. 

“Suddenly I was studying, making friends and playing football, which really helped me get used to the idea of living here, and bit by bit, I started to get a lot more serious about playing football.

“Ultimately it’s what has kept me here.”

This will be Raith’s third successive season in League One, and the first where they aren’t the favourites for the title, with Falkirk the obvious front-runners.

However, Victoria has seen enough to think Rovers can put up a title challenge.

“I just want to do my best and be a provider for the team, both goals and assists,” he added.

“I’m really hopeful it’s going to work out well and come the end of the season we can finish top.”