Portuguese hitman Esmael Goncalves has pledged to leave St Mirren supporters starstruck ... by becoming the Paisley club’s answer to goal machine Didier Drogba.
Goncalves has signed for Saints on loan from Portuguese top-flight side Rio Ave until the end of the season and could make his debut against Celtic in the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final on Sunday, provided international clearance comes through in time.
And the 21-year-old striker has revealed he models his game on Ivory Coast star Drogba, who has legendary status in British football, following his exploits at Chelsea.
Goncalves told Express Sports: “My hero is Drogba and I think I’m similar.
“When I was younger, I watched him play every game for Marseille.
“Do St Mirren have Didier Drogba for the next six months? I hope so.”
Goncalves was born in Guinea-Bassau but has Portuguese nationality and is looking forward to tasting life in Scottish football.
The burly forward can recall Portuguese players Jorge Cadete and Pedro Mendes lighting up the SPL for Celtic and Rangers and he aims to make a similar impact.
Goncalves added: “I remember these players, especially Cadete as he was a big star here.
“I know Celtic from the time they played Porto in the UEFA Cup Final nearly 10 years ago and I also went to see them play on Tuesday night at their stadium.
“They are a good team. They play good football and are strong.”
Goncalves, who spent five years on the books at Boavista, hopes to kick-start his career with Saints after falling down the pecking order at Rio Ave.
He said: “I have come here to play more football, more minutes.
“Back home, I wasn’t playing enough but my agent Ian Cathro spoke to me and told me that I could come to Scotland to score goals. He said I would be fine here.
“It’s similar to England, the same type of football, so I’ll like it.”
Goncalves – who will wear the number 77 shirt for Saints, with his nickname Isma on the back – insists he’ll be raring to go against Celtic this weekend and admits he would love to make his debut for the Buddies at Hampden.
He added: “I have not played in a cup final. My best was a semi-final of the French Cup with Nice but we lost 2-0 to Rennes last year.
“I trained with the team this morning and, for my first training session, it was okay.