John Ruddy explains how Wolves stars knew boss Nuno was special

John Ruddy hopes Wolves’ FA Cup hopes don’t go up in smoke tonight – like when he pranked boss Nuno Espirito Santo with an exploding golf ball.

Veteran keeper Ruddy will be back in goal after playing in all Wolves ‘ Cup games this season.

He is expecting a busy night against an in-form Manchester United side at Molineux with a semi-final at Wembley up for grabs.

But Ruddy, 32, is relishing his return to the big-time after playing a starring role last term helping Wolves win the Championship.

He was subsequently benched in the Premier League behind Portuguese No.1 Rui Patricio.

Ruddy celebrates the FA Cup win at Bristol City


But Ruddy hasn’t moaned and says Santo is a special boss who can be a friend as well as a coach.

He recalled playing golf with Santo in Marbella at Villa Padierna a year ago on a Wolves’ training camp.

Ruddy, signed in 2017 after leaving Norwich, said: “We went away last year to Marbella for a bit of warm weather training and he’d just taken up golf.

“We didn’t have any idea how good or how bad he was, and as it turned out how bad he was.

Santo is the toast of Molineux after guiding the club to promotion and into the top ten of the Premier League and the last eight of the FA Cup


“I thought to myself: ‘I’ve got an opportunity here’.

“We arranged a round in the afternoon and I said: ‘what balls are you using boss?’

“He said he’d just got ones that someone gave to him, so I said: ‘no, I’ve got these ones for you, they’ve changed my game’.

“I’ve given him this ball with no markings on and he’s looked at it.

“I thought he wouldn’t buy it, but he teed it up and there was about eight of us behind him.

“We were just stood there, shoulders bouncing up and down because we knew what was coming.

“He’s absolutely struck it. It was the best strike of the day and it’s just gone up in a puff of powder.

“The lads were rolling around on the floor.

“Nuno took it incredibly well, saw the funny side of it, and I think that sums up the spirit we’ve built.

Ruddy will be between the sticks tonight

“We feel very comfortable around him, but we also know when we can and can’t do stuff like that.

“I’ve never been at a club where the manager will play golf with you and socialise with you, but he knows what he needs to do to get the best out of us.

“His man-management skills are excellent and that demonstrates it.

“It’s about managing people in the right times, the time for work, and then having a free day or playing golf.”

Wolves, who knocked out Liverpool in the third round, have picked up results against all the top six sides in the League or Cup this term.

Ruddy said: “We’re solid, hard to break down and create chances on the counter attack.

“That has been a key when playing against the bigger teams who like to dominate possession.

“We are happy to let them do that knowing that we are solid and that when we do get the ball back, we can cause them problems.”

Wolves: Ruddy; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny, Jota, Jimenez

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