23 Feb Carlos Carvalhal given new perspective owing to struggles of friend
Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal has revealed how one of his former player’s fight for life has helped him put the battle for Premier League survival into perspective.
Jose Antonio, a former captain of Portuguese club Leixoes, has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – a disease which causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles.
Carvalhal speaks to him regularly and profits from one of the three books he has written about football and life helps fund Antonio’s medical treatment.
“He is still fighting,” Carvalhal said ahead of Swansea’s crunch trip to Brighton on Saturday.
“The medics gave him five or six years, but it is 13 or 14 years now.
“I talk with him often, most weeks, and it is a kind of miracle with him.”
Carvalhal – who has won 14 points from 21 to lift Swansea off the bottom and above the relegation zone – added: “It just shows when these things happen in our lives then everything becomes relative.
“All of us when we have these incidents we see life completely differently.
“You know how to compare subjects and problems.
“Football is a subject, it can be solved or not, you can win or lose, you can be fired.
“A problem is something in your hands, an illness, a death in the family or a friend. These are real problems.”
Swansea head to Brighton – who are one point and two places above them – having lost only once in 12 league and cup games since Carvalhal succeeded Paul Clement at the end of December.
It is only the second time that the fixture has been played in the top flight, Brighton winning 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium in November through a Glenn Murray goal.
But the contest renews a sharp rivalry, forged in the Sky Bet Championship, between former Sheffield Wednesday manager Carvalhal and Chris Hughton.
Brighton boss Hughton suffered defeat only once in six games, but Carvalhal said: “We won the most important one – the semi-final of the (2015-16) play-offs at home.
“This is the best memories I have against Brighton.
“They are a strong side, they missed out on promotion but they came back the next year and took another step with many of the same players.
“The natural path of a promoted team is that they are in a position to fight to stay in the competition.
“They are a threat with the offensive organisation, they are doing well and progressing with better players.
“It will be difficult but we will be there to fight.”
Asked if he admired Hughton, he replied: “I voted him to be the best manager in the Championship, he was my vote.”