Carlos Carvalhal on life, football and Wednesday

Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal
Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal
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He is the man tasked with restoring former glories to Sheffield Wednesday, yet Carlos Carvalhal remains somewhat of a mysterious figure.

When the first reports emerged that the Portuguese was to become the Owls’ new head coach in June this year, there was widespread surprise and confusion.

‘Who is Carlos Carvalhal?’ was the question on the lips of Wednesdayites. And, as he begins to make an impression in the Championship, it is something probably now being asked by the wider footballing public.

His record did not make for the most inspiring reading, but over the last three months it has quickly become apparent there is more to Carvalhal than his job-a-year reputation.

The 49-year-old has emerged as a progressive coach with a distinct philosophy, steadfast principles and a strong desire for success. Suave, stylish and sophisticated. The quintessential foreign coach.

And with success beginning to arrive for a club whose time in the top tier of English football last came almost a generation ago, supporters are increasingly on side with Carvalhal.

Carlos Carvalhal is proving to be a big hit with Wednesdayites

Carlos Carvalhal is proving to be a big hit with Wednesdayites

But who is the man behind the coach and how did he arrive in Sheffield 6?

In his surprisingly bare office at Wednesday’s Middlewood Road training ground, Carvalhal cuts a relaxed figure sitting behind a desk strewn with paper and three mobile phones.

As we discuss his life, football education, hopes and ambitions, he is the same charming man he has shown himself to be over the past few months at the club. His grasp of English is very good and improving all the time. Just once does he stop to google the translation of a Portuguese word.

A huge downpour begins outside the window which overlooks the main training pitch, bringing the inevitable question of how a man from a southern Mediterranean country is coping with the English climate.

Carlos Carvalhal with Owls chairman Dejphon Chansiri

Carlos Carvalhal with Owls chairman Dejphon Chansiri

“It is fantastic,” he says with a grin. “It has not rained too much since we arrived, other than right now.

“I was ready. I was in Istanbul with ten days of snowing throughout the days and we could not go out of the facilities. I was in Dubai with 52 degrees heat.

“I’m Portuguese - I can adapt to everything no problem.”


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Adapting is something Carvalhal has been forced to do during his coaching career. The headline figure reads 14 jobs in 14 years before arriving at Hillsborough at the start of the summer.

Coaching has taken him from his native Portugal to Turkey, Greece and Dubai, with very few lengthy stays in any one place.

And in leaving Portugal, he is also forced to leave behind his family.

He is married to nursery teacher Maria and the couple have a daughter and a son.

Braga-born Carvalhal sees all three, along with his two dogs, a pug and a French bulldog, on fleeting trips during international breaks - he will go home this weekend - and when they visit Sheffield on occasion.

This, he says, is merely a fact of life of a jet-setting coach and something he has had to get used to.

“It is a question of habit,” the former central defender said. “Last week was hard for me because we didn’t have a game during the week.

“We are usually playing three games in the week so it is ok because you are in one game, you finish and then you are in another.

“You don’t really have time to miss anything because all the time you are focusing on your work.”

Carvalhal’s daughter is 21 and a nursing graduate about to enter medicine while his 18-year-old son is set to embark on a management degree.

He admits he is happy neither has opted to follow him into the world of football, due to purely selfish reasons.

He said: “My home is my environment which is completely outside of football.

“We don’t talk too much about football. We talk about different things and I think this is very important to me because I need to relax my mind.

“It is not really a question that I did not want them in football, it is what happened.

“I don’t need to talk about football at home.”


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When talking to Carvalhal, it quickly becomes apparent that football is his life. The best way to describe the son of an ink salesman father and seamstress mother is a ‘student of the game.’

It also means that while he has been in Sheffield for three months, has experienced few of the sights and sounds of the Steel City.

His basic daily routine involves arriving at Middlewood Road early, leaving late and immersing himself in studying opposing teams when he returns to his apartment on the fringes of the city centre.

“I don’t know too much of the city,” he admits. “I know a little of the centre because I stayed in a hotel when I first came.

“The place where I live is quiet which I like. I enjoy.

“I am in the quiet environment. It is perfect for me because when I go home, even when I finish work, I like to see three or four games of the next opponents all the time.

“So at night, I usually see some games. Sometimes I eat at a restaurant near my apartment but I spend a lot of time looking at games.

“I am doing what I like. I don’t have a social life.

“I am doing what I love to do and what I wish to do so it is ok.”

Hobbies are few for Carvalhal, though he confesses he misses his mountain bike. “My city has a lot of mountains and rivers around so it is a very nice place to go with my bike. Here I don’t have time. I don’t have people to go with. I miss my bike.”

Sheffield seems to be the perfect city for Carvalhal to reconnect with his love of mountain biking, if only time would allow.

For now, his focus is purely on Sheffield Wednesday and achieving owner Dejphon Chansiri’s goal of returning the club to the Premier League in time for its 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017.

Though his residency in South Yorkshire is still in its infancy, it is clear the club has already made its mark on the Portuguese.

And his desire to succeed at Hillsborough is growing stronger by the day.

“The club and the fans are fantastic,” he said. “I want to wake the giant.

“We have a lot of games, so I can say that I am married to Sheffield Wednesday because I live with Sheffield Wednesday from morning to night.

“And I sleep with Sheffield Wednesday at night.”

Sheffield might still be getting to know Carvalhal. But if he can build on the successful start to his time as Wednesday head coach, his name could go down in Steel City folklore.