• If it’s meant for me to be a footballer, whether it’s in Spain or England, I will be successful – Getafe and Atletico Madrid prodigy Mendes Gomes

By Andrew Atkinson

Carlos Mendes Gomes netted a penalty for Morecambe in the League 2 play-off final 1-0 victory against Newport County at Wembley gaining promotion to the first division for the first time in the club’s 101 year history.

Linked with a summer move to Rangers, former Getafe and Atletico Madrid prodigy Mendes Gomes, 22, moved to Lanzarote as a child, and ventured to Madrid alone, aged 15, when joining Getafe, prior to joining Atletico Madrid.

He arrived in England and played at West Didsbury and Chorlton for two seasons, signing for Morecambe in 2018 after being scouted during his time at The Manchester College where he played in the Academy.

“Even though everything was going well in Lanzarote, it doesn’t have that exposure, in terms of making it big as a footballer,” said Mendes Gomes, who has aspirations to play in La Liga.

“That was the reason I went to Madrid. I went and played for Getafe the first year and the second year is when I got signed by Atletico. I was 15,” he said.

Part of the Los Colchoneros youth set-up, Mendes Gomes was amongst players who won their first league title in 18 years, also being runners-up in the Champions League, losing the final in extra-time to Real Madrid.

“It was an amazing feeling. When we were going to games and watching the first team, I’d think that one day I want to have this feeling and I want to be part of it,” said Mendes Gomes.

“We would take pictures with first-team players, after that it becomes normal, taking advice and trying to learn from them,” he said.

First-team players included Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, David Villa and Diego Costa, along with Atletico stars, Diego Godin, Juanfran and Koke.

Koke was someone that Mendes Gomes played with in the Atletico Madrid B team, along with brothers Lucas and Theo Hernandez.

Morecambe star Mendes Gomes.

“I played at u-16s and u-18s. Then my dad decided to move to England, because he thought we’d have a better opportunity for an education for me and my little sisters,” he said.

“We had to move to England and, at the beginning, I didn’t want to because I had my football back home.

“But I thought, ‘If it’s meant for me to be a footballer, whether it’s in Spain or England, I will be successful’.

“The first year I didn’t play any football because I couldn’t find a team. The second year I didn’t really care who I played for.

“It was tough because I didn’t speak any English, but I just wanted to play. So I found a non-League club.

“I always believed that if I trust my ability, it doesn’t matter where I play, someone can spot that. I was just playing, making sure everything was right. If any opportunities were to come, I’d try and take it,” he said.

After two years at non-League side West Didsbury & Chorlton, the chance to play in the Football League for Morecambe came.

He made 15 league appearances in his first season at the Globe Arena: “The first season I was playing lots and then I wasn’t even on the bench.

“I believed I deserved to play more, because of the way I was performing in training and the team wasn’t really doing that well, at that time,” he said.

“I thought I should’ve at least got a chance, but it didn’t happen. Then, when Derek Adams took over, he gave me that opportunity and I made sure I took it,” he added.

Having made no appearances before Jim Bentley’s departure in October 2019, Mendes Gomes started 15 of Adams’ opening 20 games as manager.

“Adams took my game to the next level – mentality-wise and also my technical ability. He’s given me the confidence to go onto the pitch, express myself and just be me,” says Mendes Gomes.

“He’s added more directness to my game. My relationship with him is great, when the manager speaks highly in interviews and one-to-one, it’s really pleasing to hear.”

Mendez Gomes said: “We were absolutely looking for promotion. We had this mindset from the start of the season.

“We didn’t want to be Morecambe – who just survive relegation each year and never fights for anything. We wanted to push for the play-offs and believed we had the team to do it.”

Gomes is out of contract this summer, with the club putting in a contract clause that gave them the right to exercise an extension, amid a link to Scottish Champions Rangers, among other clubs.

Adams, who quit the Shrimps, just three days after promotion, said: “Carlos has got a very good football brain. If other clubs are being linked with him it means something positive must be happening.

“Carlos is a fantastic boy, you can tell that by his work ethic in training and in games.”

On the future, Mendes Gomes said: “Personally, the season has been good – but there’s always room for improvement. I believe I can actually up it and do better.”

Caption: Mendes Gomes: link to Rangers in summer move.

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