FROM Ibiza to New York, from Cancun to Lisbon, the Celtic supporters have followed the globetrotting escapades of Jota all summer. It hasn’t only been through social media that they’ve been able to keep tabs on the winger, though, who they desperately hoped would be joining them permanently.

It didn’t matter where the Portuguese went, he would bump into Celtic fans. And each and every one of them would have the same message for him, as they pleased him to convert his loan deal last season from Benfica into the long-term contract he eventually signed yesterday.

Some of the supporters who met Jota got more than just a few minutes of his time too, with an unsuspecting group of fans getting the ringer of a lifetime after roping him into a Sunday League match.

“I saw the Celtic fans everywhere I went,” Jota said. “You have no idea how many stories I have with supporters. It was crazy.

“There are Celtic people all over the world which is a good thing. It was good to feel the love and warmth everywhere I went.

“I had a kickabout with some fans in New York. I actually played a Sunday League match with a group of Irish fans.

“Me and my friend were kicking a ball around when someone approached us and asked if we wanted a game. They asked if we wanted to join them because they were a couple of players short. They needed two guys to make up the numbers so we said ‘Why not?’

“Then when I started to play one of the guys from our team came up and asked if I was Jota. I had a Celtic strip on with my name on the back but they still didn't believe me at first and thought it was a joke.

“He said ‘No way, no, this must be a joke, it’s not you, come on. Jota is not in New York playing with us in the Sunday League!’ And I said ‘Yeah I am, I am! Trust me, it’s real!’

“In the end he understood that it was me, and I remember that we had to start the game losing 2-0, because the rule was that if two guys didn’t show up, you started the game losing 2-0. So, then I said to myself ‘ok, we cannot lose this game.’ We had to go strong.

“It was good to be with Celtic fans and enjoy some time with them in an amazing city.

“I don’t remember the name of the team, but I remember the score was like 6-5, something like that. I scored two and had four assists!

“I knew that the fanbase of Celtic is really big, but I never expected when I turned the next corner I would find someone from Celtic.

“Sometimes it’s just random. I knew it could happen, but I didn’t go to these places for this to happen, I went for my holidays!

“But it was just lucky they were there and I could just chat with them a bit.”

Those chats did play a part in the final decision that Jota made to swap Benfica – his childhood club – for Celtic in the end, a dilemma he was trying to put to the back of his mind as he checked out of Celtic Park as a Premiership champion in mid-May.

“When I went on my holidays, I just started to think about holidays,” he said. “I knew there was a moment I had to make a decision and it was in that moment that I made the decision.

“They kept on saying that [that I had to stay]. And I kept on saying ‘First let me enjoy my holiday. It is really short. I won’t have this throughout the season. So I will make the decision when I have to make it’.

“Yes [they influenced me], but then we just started to talk about normal things, the life in these places. I am a cultural guy. I just ended up speaking about normal things.”

As well as developing himself as a person over the summer away from football, Jota is looking forward to developing further under the tutelage of Ange Postecoglou, and he feels that on both a personal and a collective level there is more to come from him and Celtic next season.

“For sure, Ange is a guy that is amazing to work with,” he said.

“His philosophy of the game is the one that I am looking for in my career, the way he thinks about the game. I am just grateful to have a coach in my career that can develop me. That’s what I’m looking for.

“I don’t want to stop here. I think there are plenty more things to do to develop and work with.

“I know a place that I can achieve, but I am still far away from that. So I just have to keep on being grounded, to be humble and work hard.

“As a Celtic player, I think we always have to find the way to win as many titles as we can.

“I know sometimes it is not impossible because the competitions are tough, but we don’t give up.

“We are going to fight to do it.”