He was brought in by Guernsey FC boss Tony Vance last summer, and with seven goals, sleek play and a smile for all, Carlos Canha ended the campaign having been a resounding hit with the Green Lions. Arriving on the island two years ago, the 26-year-old starred as Rovers AC retained the Priaulx League title in 2017/18, with ‘King Carlos’ crowned the league’s best player.
So, how does a Madeiran playmaker end up in English non-league football, bidding to help fire the Channel Islanders into the leading places in the BetVictor South East Division?
Firstly Carlos, how did your move to Guernsey, the island itself, come about?
It was all very normal. I had been here about eight years ago on summer vacation, so I didn’t come to an unknown place. As soon as my uncle Fernando called me to ask if I wanted to come here to work (Carlos’ uncle works as a gardener) I already knew that it would be the best option for my future.
How did you feel when you arrived? What did you like and what felt very different?
Well, I was feeling good. I knew this was a good opportunity for me, even though I knew my relatives were missing me. What caught my attention and what I was immediately in love with was the beaches. In Madeira, the beaches are almost all stone, and when I came here to see everything golden, I was delighted. Definitely the weather was different; I had no idea that in winter the temperatures went down so much – I had to start buying coats!
Tell me about where you come from back in Madeira. What kind of city/town/village is it, and do you come from a small or large family?
I come from a municipality called Ponta do Sol; by the name you can already guess almost everything and also why I have definitely said the weather in the previous question. Very calm, warm and very beautiful place. I can say that I come from a large family, with my grandparents having many children. My mother had 11 brothers and my father six brothers; in contrast, my mother had my older sister, and I was the youngest of the house.
— Gaz Hobbs (@ChilternLlama) September 14, 2019
What is life like for you in Guernsey when you’re not playing? What is a typical week?
I’ve always had football in my life, so it would be a hard life to imagine without football. The first thing I said to my friends in Madeira was that if I didn’t have football, I would not be in Guernsey. A typical week for me is to go to work (Carlos is also a gardener), because without that I would not be here. I train two times a week, play on Saturday, and rest on Sunday to recover energy.
Tell me about some of the other places you have played. Which clubs and in which countries?
Back in Madeira I have always been linked to Pontassolense. I have had short-term experiences in União da Madeira and CS Marítimo, but I have never played any official games for them. So for now, Pontassolense, Rovers AC and Guernsey FC.
How has your manager at Guernsey, Tony Vance, been to work with? How would you describe him as a coach and as a person?
Tony is a strong-minded coach. He likes to see the team playing, and he does everything he can to help the players look at the game as a whole. From building play to finishing, as well as charts, we analyse our games a lot so we can understand what we can improve on and what our game ideas are. He likes to analyse each player so he can get the best out of each one for the team. As a person, he has many good traits; some of those I appreciate are his honesty and fun.
Carlos Canha wins the “Manelanders” player of the year. Shy, talented and charming. Says it’s been “amazing” being in this team. pic.twitter.com/c6hpcNDjnu
— Hayden Atkins (@BrummieHayden) April 27, 2019
In the team, who are the funniest (or loudest!) personalities? Do you have any close friends in the team?
Loud I would say Robbie Legg now! I didn’t know him until the beginning of this season, due to a serious injury he had, but he is very noisy and super fun. For friends in the team, yes. Although we didn’t go to the same school, or even play football together since childhood, I still feel like I have friends.
What does this club (and island) mean to you? What will Guernsey mean when you look back in a few years?
It means everything. Both the island for giving me the opportunity to have a better future, and the club for the opportunity to do what I like best – playing football. I will look back gratefully, and without knowing what tomorrow will bring, I am sure I will miss it.
Interview by @chris_brookes