Fabio Silva interview: "We expect a return to the days when teams feared playing Wolves"

Fabio Silva Wolves
(Image credit: PA)

This interview with Fabio Silva appeared in the August 2021 edition of FourFourTwo.

Fabio Silva had made only 21 senior appearances for Porto, and scored just three goals, when Wolves spent £35 million on the teenage forward last summer. Many an eyebrow was raised at the price tag, despite the Portuguese's obvious talent, but the youngster showed flashes of what he can do last season when thrust into the first-team reckoning as a result of Raul Jimenez's sickening skull fracture against Arsenal.

With that first campaign under his belt, one in which he was without the physical support of his family for the first time, Silva can't wait to get cracking in 2021/22 and has his eyes set on a bucketload of goals, as he told FourFourTwo in the summer...

Wolves spent £35m on you at 18 – what did you make of your debut season?
I think it went very well, considering my age and the whole context. I arrived from the Portuguese league, which is very different from the Premier League – all of the games here demand a lot from you. I’m extremely happy with what I did, but it’s behind me already – I set new goals every season.

Do you feel ready to start more matches?
No doubt about it. I had a great run of games at the end of last season which made me feel as if I were already at home. I had to adapt over our campaign, including the team’s playing style; I was forced to think much faster and use my body much more.

And who was the toughest defender you came up against?
[Yerry] Mina from Everton – he was the most annoying one I came up against. He’s Colombian, so I think it’s part of his culture to try to get into your head; play mind games; say things to provoke you. But I’m calm on the pitch and don’t pay attention!

How did you cope being far from home and away from your family for the first time?
It was really challenging for me. I used to be with them every day, but then I moved to England and the pandemic happened. To go months without seeing them was not easy, especially because I have a younger sister and another brother who also need attention. But I was never completely on my own – if I were, I wouldn’t have been able to eat! I’d have had to order food every day. [Laughs]

What’s it like living in Wolverhampton?
It’s obviously great to be at a club with so many Portuguese players – sometimes it almost makes you feel as if you were indeed in Portugal! You have dinner together and it becomes a family thing. But the whole team helped me – like our slogan says, we are all one pack. It was the easiest part of moving.

How disappointed were you about Nuno leaving? What did he do for you?
He was key. At the beginning, there were moments when people talked about my price tag, and the fact that I wasn’t playing much or scoring. You read some things you don’t like on social media or in a paper, and that’s the sort of thing which can make you question yourself when you’re 18. But he always spoke to me and stressed that I was important. It gives you confidence.

This season, you have a new manager. What do you know about Bruno Lage?
It will be great to work with him. His record speaks for itself, where he worked before and what he won [at Benfica]. I’ll also have the chance to reunite with Luis Nascimento [Lage’s brother and assistant coach], the person who had the biggest impact on me during my formative years – I learned the most from him [in Benfica’s U15 age group].

You have been hyped in Portugal and compared to Cristiano Ronaldo since you were very young – how difficult is that?
It’s difficult, but I’ve had to deal with these things for some time now. Obviously when you’re compared to your idol it makes you happy, because it proves you’re on the right path. But I have people around me who keep me alert and maintain perspective.

What can we expect from Wolves now?
Last season wasn’t normal for us – before, we made it to the Europa League and fought until the end. We expect a return to those days, when other teams feared coming to Molineux. We need to go into games knowing we’re capable of achieving big things.

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Marcus Alves

Marcus Alves is a freelance journalist based in Lisbon and has written for FourFourTwo since 2012. He can also be found at BBC Sport, the Telegraph, Kicker and Yahoo. A former ESPN reporter, he covered 12 games in 15 days during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but can barely remember any of them. He blames cachaça for that.