Nix sign decorated Portuguese goalkeeper

The Wellington Phoenix have made a major statement of intent with their first new signing of the Liberty A-League off-season.

The Phoenix have secured the services of Portuguese U-23 goalkeeper Carolina Vilão for the 2024-25 campaign.

Vilão, 23, has left S.L. Benfica where she won eight trophies, including four Portuguese league titles, and played in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Phoenix head coach Paul Temple has hailed the signing.

“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.”

One of Vilão’s strengths is her ability to play with her feet and she will aid the team’s “evolution” this season.

“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.”

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – OCTOBER 11: Coach Paul Temple looks on during a Wellington Phoenix A-League Women media opportunity at NZCIS on October 11, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Carolina Vilão had to bide her time as the number two ‘keeper at Benfica and hopes the Phoenix can help launch her career.

“It’s time for me to move on so I can grow a little bit more,” Vilão said.

“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.

“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.”

Vilão believes she can add a lot to Paul Temple’s squad.

“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.”

She hopes those attributes will help her become a fully-fledged Portuguese international in the future.

“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.

“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.”

Carolina Vilão is the 10th Wellington Phoenix women’s player contracted for the 2024-25 Liberty A-League season, with discussions continuing with other off-contract players.