BY ALESSANDRO SCHIAVONE
Carlos Fangueiro has looked back on his time at Millwall in the 2005-2006 season – and believes he would have made a greater impact had he avoided injuries.
A lot was expected from Fangueiro following his arrival from Portuguese side União Leiria given his status in his homeland.
However it proved a tough baptism in English football as he was limited to only 11 appearances for the Lions before he joined League One outfit Walsall the following summer.
The former Portuguese winger, who is currently the manager of Luxembourgish top tier side F91 Dudelange, said that he still follows the club on a regular basis and harbours hopes of one day returning to The Den in a managerial role.
But he wants to earn his stripes first…
In 2005-2006 you played at Millwall, what memories do you have of the club?
I loved my time at The Den and the unique nature of English football and the competitiveness of the Championship. Wherever we played, home or away, the stadiums were always packed and the games were always sold out or almost sold out. And that’s a pleasure for a manager and a player to play in a stadium full of people. But not only that, in terms of organisation, standards, advertising and atmosphere, football in England is as good as it gets. It really is my dream to work in England one day.
Was it difficult to cope with the high intensity of English football and making the giant leap from the Portuguese league, more renowned for its flair and technique in 2005 when you quit Uniao Leira for Millwall?
“Yes, I struggled to settle in at Millwall at the beginning because I was coming from a very technical and less physical division like Portugal. By contrast, the Championship is very physical, tough and scrappy. On top of that, I wasn’t the strongest footballer [physically]. I had difficulties and needed a couple of weeks to impose myself. But later, I managed to make my mart, but just when I was at the top of my game, I suffered a serious injury which kept me out for three months which was the end of my Millwall career. Sadly, that’s how things panned out for me. I really thought I could have a much better career in England.
Luck was not really on your side as you have just explained. But from a collective perspective things were even worse – relegation to League One.
Yes, for Millwall to get relegated was a shame and it still rankles with me that we went down that year.
But if I reflect on that season, it was very difficult to build a team as just a season before Millwall had played in an FA Cup final against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United.
Millwall had a phenomenal season [in 2003-2004] and as a consequence the club decided to sell all of their players and had to build a team from scratch, which is not easy to do.
When I joined the club at the end of August, the season had already started and three games had already been played, so it was difficult for me. There were lots of issues and things got out of hand very quickly with Millwall eventually going down.
What was it like to play in front of the Millwall fans? They have a certain reputation: passionate, hostile and famed for fostering a siege mentality.
[Fangeuiro bursts into laughter and nods].
Yeah, but my relationship with the fans was great.
There is an episode that I have never forgotten. I had already left the club for three or four seasons and a friend of mine, who was studying in London, once bumped into Millwall fans on the train. The train stopped near Millwall’s ground after a game and many fans boarded the train. One supporter approached my friend and asked him: ‘You don’t look English, where are you from?’ And when my friend told him he was Portuguese the whole train started to sing ‘Carloooooooos Fanguuuuueiro, Carlooooooos Fangeuiro’. What an amazing feeling when he told me. Other than that, the Millwall fans are very demanding but that’s just part and parcel of football at the top level. After every training session and game the Millwall always rooted for the team and that was special. My relationship with them was great, they are phenomenal!
You stayed less than two seasons in England. One at Millwall and then a couple of months at Walsall. Would you have liked to stay longer there and maybe join a bit earlier in your career, when you were in your pomp?
I was 28, almost 29 [so I was still in my prime] but it goes without saying that if I had had the chance to go earlier it would have been easier to adapt quicker to English football and London. Leaving a big country [like Portugal] where there is beach and sun and going to England was a cultural shock. I struggled.
But I believe that, despite all the problems I faced, in the end I managed to establish myself at the club. Regrets? No, but if I had made the move to England earlier I would have had the sort of career that I envisaged in English football.
Do you still follow the club today? Last season Millwall came close to reaching the play-offs but capitulated in the penultimate game of the season, losing 4-3 away to QPR.
Yes, I do. Once you play for Millwall, it is impossible not to follow the club for the rest of your life. At least two times a month I check their results, the table position and if they go up or not. I am very interested in Millwall and I will follow the club until the rest of my life. And who knows if i won’t manage them one day…
Managing Millwall is a genuine target?
It goes without saying that it would be a dream to manage Millwall, absolutely.
Style or substance? Do you favour winning 1-0 or 5-4?
Both are important. Personally, I prefer ‘spectacular’ games, so I go for winning 5-4 instead of 1-0. I am a meticulous manager who plays a possession-based, vertical style of attacking football. My teams have to attack with conviction and create spaces on the pitch to score lots of goals. And if we can mix substance with style that would be even better!
Tell us something about you as a manager and how you manage the ones that play less, the squad players?
In my team there aren’t any ‘regular starters’ or ‘reserves’ and that also applies to goalkeepers. Every week is different and my players must work their socks off in training, go beyond their limits if they want to play. The outfield player and the goalkeeper who impresses me the most during the week in training will play.
Your country has produced some great managers in the past: Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas Boas, Leonardo Jardim and Marco Silva. Is it possible for you to follow in their footsteps? You have a bonus that some of them did not have: you played at a high level. Mourinho, Villas-Boas and Jardim never did.
I do not hide that it is my dream and I will do whatever it takes [to get there]. Having the experience as a footballer is important but not crucial as there are cases of managers who did not have the possibility to play at a high-level, yet still managed to carve out a beautiful managerial career like Jose Mourinho and Leonardo Jardim. My dream is to do all I can to embark on a similar career path. That said, we know how difficult that is but I am very demanding of myself and I wanna succeed. It is my dream and I want to make it happen.
Is the Portuguese Primeira Liga your Holy Grail?
No it is not. The Portuguese league is competitive and there’s lot of quality in there but my dream is to manage in England. In the Premier League.
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