|The venue: Municipal Stadium Braga, Portugal Date: April 7 Kick-off: 8:00 PM BST|
|Coverage: Listen comments to BBC Radio Scotland & online; follow the live text on the BBC Sport website and app.|
“My children are now adults. The club said to me, my wife, father and mother ‘OK, let’s go’.
Carlos Carvalhal traveled from the terrible summer heat of Tripoli and Dubai, to the crowded streets of Istanbul and across sunny Swansea in search of his football nirvana. However, even the Portuguese philosophers did not expect to find him in the most unexpected – and most unforgivable – places. The House.
Now 56, Carvalhal is living the dream of a young boy. Born, raised and then raised at the Braga Football Academy, the former boss of Sheffield Wednesday and Besiktas is trying something unique with the club he played for in three periods, and has now succeeded twice.
He won the Portuguese Cup last season after also being runner-up in the League Cup and Super Cup. Now the Scottish champion Rangers is on the way to qualifying for the semifinals of the Europa League.
“I made up my mind that I would put my name and the names of my players in the museum,” he told the BBC Scotland.
“After the first season, we won one of the most important trophies. In the second season, I had the opportunity to go to another club with more money and I decided to stay.
‘I said I can’t stay’
Carvalhal is in his fifth period with Braga as a player and manager, so this is an opportunity that has been created for many years.
Back in 2006, a local guy took over his beloved club. Despite the fact that he had the experience that this was his eighth job as a manager, he admits that he brought the struggle and pressure that he and his family struggled with.
“It is very difficult in Portugal, and all over the world, to manage a team in your hometown, and that is your club. You can’t imagine.
“I had the experience in the past that I stayed for three or four months before I decided to leave. I talked to the president and said that my children are very small, there is a lot of pressure around their father, they are constantly crying. I said ‘sorry, I can’t stay’. “
Now things are much different.
Carvalhal’s reputation as a lively coach has been a big part of his personality in the UK, and in South Yorkshire and South Wales. Fans and journalists were amazed and sometimes confused, listening to his football philosophy at press conferences before and after the game.
But speaking from his home in Braga, Carvalhal – who studied psychology and philosophy at university – speaks with authority, as well as a lot of pragmatism after a period in English football that began promisingly but ended in disappointment.
He led the Owls to the playoffs twice before parting ways, until he managed to save Swansea, who had already struggled with relegation for six months in Wales.
After returning to Portugal, he led Rio Ave to the Europa League in his first season, collecting a record number of club points in the process, before his fairy tale from Braga began to exist.
“We wanted to stay in Swansea and the Premier League, but life took a different path,” said Carvalhal, who took the Swans side anchored at the bottom of the table at a touch distance from survival.
“We were sure that if we had more time we would have saved the team. We scored a lot of points and did our best for the team.
I hope that Swansea will soon return to their rightful place in the Premier League.
‘I am his football father’
Rangers mastered Braga two years ago, but two different managers and one radically changed party will meet on Thursday.
Under Carvalhal, the philosophy of youth is at the core of everything. They are the youngest team in the Europa League, but the one that has already sent FC Sheriff and Monaco on their way to meet the Rangers.
You have the feeling that something special is being prepared in a city located in the north of Portugal.
“We are in a period of transformation. We have a lot of boys in the first team,” he said.
“We are the youngest team in the competition, and when you have the most shots on goal and the most attacks in the Europa League, we work incredibly.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was born that I wanted to play at the stadium I went to with my father and mother. Now I’m giving a chance to these guys, it’s very emotional and important to me.
Winger Roger Fernandez is injured and will not play on Thursday, but his story is worth mentioning.
Last year, Carvalhal made his debut for the then 15-year-old, who shone brilliantly after being expelled from the club academy.
A few months later, a teenager born in Guinea-Bissau scored his first senior goal just days after he could not return home to his father’s funeral due to travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
“He has a special story,” explains Karvalhal. “It was a special moment. A week or two before his father’s death, he had the opportunity to play in a cup game.
“He scored a goal and came to me to hug me like a sports father, another father. I was very emotional towards the boy.”
Emotions are generally stirred by the Portuguese coach, who claims that the chances of his team reaching the last four are “50-50”.
A man whose contract expires in the summer remains an optimist, but realistic at all times.
“We will go with a lot of ambition and try to make a surprise,” said Carvalhal, whose team is fourth in the Portuguese league after winning the quarterfinals of the Champions League Benfica 3-2 on Friday. “Just like I said against Monaco.
“In Portugal, we have a bag ready all the time because the clubs are moving the managers so fast. Our dream cannot be long-term. It must always be the next game. “