Major coup for Phoenix as 23yo Benfica keeper arrives in Liberty A-League

Wellington Phoenix have secured the signature of 23-year-old Portuguese goalkeeper Carolina Vilão ahead of the 2024-25 Liberty A-League season.

Vilão arrives in Wellington from Portuguese giants S.L. Benfica where she won eight trophies, including four Portuguese league titles.

A participant in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, Vilão is a young but experienced player who Phoenix head coach Paul Temple believes is the perfect fit to be part of the club’s ‘small ball’ tactical approach to football.

“I think it’s exciting that we can sign a player from a club like Benfica that plays in the Champions League and we’re able to attract a player like Carolina to the club,” Temple said.

“That sort of experience is massively valuable but she’s also young and hungry.

“Bringing in players with ambition, desire to improve and will to win is important for the team and its growth.

“She’s also a very technical and modern European goalkeeper… we played a selective style last year with the ‘small ball’ but we didn’t do lot of building out from the ‘keeper.

“Carolina’s very calm on the ball, good with both feet, picks passes through the lines and breaks pressure. Her ability in possession is really key, as well as obviously being a good all-round goalkeeper.”

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Carolina Vilão.

Vilão arrived at the club on the afternoon Wellington confirmed the departure of goalkeepers Rylee Foster and Brianna Edwards.

READ MORE: Phoenix to assemble all-new goalkeeping union as Foster, Edwards depart club

The 23-year-old says it was the right time to depart Benfica after six years at the Portuguese club to grow as a footballer.

“I was at Benfica for six years and I grew a lot because I went there as a young player and now I’ve become a woman,” Vilão said.

“It was a good experience playing for the under-23 national team and playing in the women’s Champions League and maybe one day I’ll come back to do that again. But now it’s time to be great in another place. I’m looking to further my career and do the best I can for the Phoenix.

“I want this move to be a success and hopefully it’ll be good for both sides, me and the club.”

“I always think of the team first and I’m a player that really wants to win. I’ve been used to winning a lot. I’m also a hard worker, I’m committed and I’m consistent.”

Vilão says she hopes a strong stretch of club form can translate to opportunities with the Portuguese national team.

“For every player in every country the ultimate goal is to represent the national team at senior level and that’s a big thing for me,” she said.

“It’s a dream for me and the work you put in at club level helps it become a reality.

“First, I have to think about playing well for the Phoenix and then I can think about it.”

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news from the Liberty A-League by clicking HERE to visit our Transfer Centre!