Wellington Phoenix recruit explains ‘dream’ A-Leagues move: ‘It’s really important’

Wellington Phoenix signing Carolina Vilao said feeling valued was key to the young goalkeeper leaving Portuguese giants Benfica in a major coup for the Liberty A-League outfit.

Vilao will link up with the Phoenix for the 2024-25 season after arriving from Benfica, where she won eight trophies, including four Portuguese league titles, following the departures of Wellington shot-stoppers Rylee Foster and Brianna Edwards.

The 23-year-old also gained UEFA Women’s Champions League experience but on the back of a “dream” transfer to the A-Leagues, she explained the reason behind swapping Europe for Down Under.

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“The Phoenix are a team who showed a real interest in me,” Portugal youth international Vilao, who also highlighted the impact of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, told reporters.

“For me right now, it’s really important that someone takes me and gives me the value I think I have to progress in my career.

“Wellington were a team who looked at me and said we believe in you and go with you in your career.

“To play outside of Portugal, it has been a dream of mine since I was a kid.”

Vilao is relishing the chance for regular game time at club level, having been able to learn from “two goalkeepers who are probably the best goalkeepers in Portugal” during her time with Benfica.

So what can she bring to the Phoenix?

“Usually I say that I’m a really good player with my feet,” said Vilao. “I like to be in the game, using that advantage that I can play with my feet.

“I’m a player that wants to win. I’m very competitive.”