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12 July 2014

Portuguese Man of Goals drops by...

IT WAS January 2006 when Jorge Leitao last set foot in Banks's Stadium.

Over eight years later and within an hour of touching down at Birmingham International Airport, he was back visiting his 'spiritual home'.

"It feels really good to be back here," said the popular front-man who joined The Saddlers in the summer of 2000 and went on to secure legendary status. "The memories are coming flooding back. It is emotional to be back here at the stadium after all these years.

"I really enjoyed my time here, there are some very special memories for me. It's hard to choose one single game or goal, they all meant something. I remember that first goal against Kidderminster Harriers in a League Cup tie here because it was the start of a great time.

"The fans always supported me, right from the very first day and that meant so much. I will never forget that because it really helped me coming here from abroad and looking to settle in to a new country.

"That backing made me determined to give 110% every game and I would like to thank the supporters for that. I still speak to them via Social Media and it amazes me that even though I left eight years ago, they still remember me and my goals so well."

Leitao has returned to these shores to play for Walsall in the Club Legends Cup at the LG Arena on Saturday evening, where he will line-up alongside former team-mates Ian Roper, Pedro Matias and Zigor Aranalde under the guidance of his first Saddlers' boss, Ray Graydon.

"I am nervous about playing but really excited at the same time," he added. "It will be great to be out there representing the club again and also seeing some old faces. Hopefully I can play well and score some goals!

"It will be a good day for me and one that I have been looking forward to for a while. I still keep myself ticking over and play football with my friends; as assistant manager at FC Arouca I am still involved in the game. I just wish I could play more but I am 40 now!

"It'll be nice to see the likes of Ropes, Pedro and Zigor. We spent so much time together and experienced so many ups and downs together during our time here. We had a great team spirit and were all in it together.

"I also have so much respect for Ray Graydon - I just hope he picks me on Saturday! It will be good to see him again because he gave me my chance here and I will forever be grateful to him for that. He helped me so much and did a fantastic job for this club.

"I am really happy to be back here and hope to return to see a game sometime."

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