Joel Castro Pereira joined Manchester United in the summer of 2012 following a successful trial period with the club’s Academy, and his career has very much been on the up ever since.
A popular player with bags of talent and determination, former Reds boss Jose Mourinho has predicted his compatriot will become the outstanding Portuguese goalkeeper of his generation.
A real character, the towering glovesman has already experienced a lot in his fledgling career. One of the highlights includes his starring role in the Under-21s’ Premier League title success in 2015/16, as well a Goalkeeper of the Tournament award, won at the Toulon Tournament in 2016. At that competition, he also scored the winning penalty in a third/fourth-placed play-off.
Joel’s subsequent loan move to Football League side Rochdale Town also proved to be beneficial, but it was his temporary switch to Portuguese club Belenenses in the first half of 2016/17 that really underlined his quality in the professional ranks. In fact, it was that successful spell which convinced Mourinho to recall the talented youngster in January 2017 and accommodate him within the first-team squad at Old Trafford.
Pereira was quickly named on the bench for an FA Cup tie against Reading and, in the following round, made a deserved senior debut versus Wigan Athletic, capping his rise through the ranks.
As well as immense potential, our no.40 also boasts a hugely positive attitude that has earned plenty of admiration within the club. “I just want people to have a good image of me as a football player and also as a person. And that's it!”
So tough is the competition for places at United that Pereira made just one senior appearance in 2017/18 – as a substitute in the EFL Cup victory over Burton Albion at Old Trafford – although it is hoped he can add to that tally in the coming years.
Despite struggling for game time during the 2017/18 campaign, he continued to develop his immeasurable potential as United's third-choice keeper, working alongside David De Gea and Sergio Romero at the Aon Training Complex, where the triumvirate established an excellent working relationship.
The highly-rated keeper was heavily involved throughout the pre-season period, and was particularly instrumental in the International Champions Cup penalty shoot-out triumph over AC Milan on the 2018 summer tour.
However, the arrival of Lee Grant facilitated a temporary spell away from Old Trafford in order to obtain regular first-team football. On 2 August 2018, Pereira returned to Portugal, joining Vitoria Setubal on loan. After that move ended in January 2019, he linked up with Belgian outfit KV Kortrijk on a similar basis. The Portuguese goalkeeper made 14 top-flight appearances across his season in the two countries, adding further weight and experience to his developing career.