FABIO Jalo had stopped playing football as a teenager before joining the Oakwell academy and believes Barnsley is the right place for him to develop.

The 18-year-old forward began his career in the youth system of Portuguese giants Benfica but left aged 13 and his family relocated to Leeds.

He has been with the Reds for four years, making his first team debut aged 16 and appearing 27 times.

Jalo, who plays for Portugal under 19s, had netted three cup goals but scored his first ever in the league on Saturday – a late equaliser in a 2-2 home draw with Reading.

He has been of interest to top flight clubs in this country and overseas but signed a new contract this year until 2027 with a club option to extend it to 2028.

Jalo told the Chronicle: “I left Benfica at 13 then had a period when I stopped playing football so I could focus on myself and family.

“I had the chance to join Barnsley and they have helped me a lot.

“When I first came in, I wasn’t good because I left Benfica and I didn’t want to.

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“But Bobby (Hassell, academy manager) and the staff helped me a lot.

“The first couple of months were hard but then I adapted.

“It’s the right place for me.

“I had a lot of time to think about the contract and I am glad I made the right decision.”

Jalo’s season looked like it was over in January after he injured his knee playing for the under 21s.

But a scan revealed it was less serious than first feared and he was fit to play for Portugal under 19s last month before coming off the bench in Barnsley’s last four matches.

“When I first got injured, for a couple of weeks before my scan they said I would be out for the season.

“When I had my scan they said two months. It was a second chance for me this season, to really focus and help the team.”

On his first league goal, Jalo said: “It was good, something special.

“It was something I was looking for for a long time – since last season. I am grateful it happened.”

Jalo thought he had scored his first league goal at Charlton a week earlier but it was controversially ruled out for offside.

“It was quite disappointing. I thought we did well, first half, and getting a point would have been good.

“That happens in football sometimes and you have to keep going.”

Jalo is hoping to help play-off chasing Barnsley to promotion this season via the League One play-off final at Wembley.

“It’s a dream since I was a kid, watching many players play at Wembley. You don’t get many chances to play at Wembley so it would be good.”

Jalo is still waiting for his first league start. He said: “It’s something I am hoping for but I will be patient and wait for my time.”

Jalo came on after 88 minutes of the 3-2 loss at Portsmouth on Tuesday.