Academy Spotlight: Xande Silva
A hugely popular product of the Academy of Football, meet Xande Silva - in his words.
From the footballing influence of his family to his love of goalscoring machine Adriano, striker Silva has featured in four Premier League matchday squads since the season restart - and knows he has to keep working hard moving forwards.
The first team I played for was Futebol Clube de Alverca, my local team. I think I was six or seven years old when I joined them, then I played for a few other teams in Portugal.
My father has been my biggest footballing influence in my family because he used to play football professionally when he was younger. He was called Quinzinho and he played many times in the Portuguese top-flight, the Primeira Liga, and China, and for the Angola national team, too.
The main challenge as a young footballer is making the transition from youth teams to becoming a professional. It’s a difference in maturity – not everyone has that maturity.
Some people grow quickly, some people go slowly, and sometimes when you’re young and have been around young players, when you sign your first professional contract, it’s hard to play with the big fish!
Sometimes you want to play like you used to play with your friends, but it’s not the same thing because they are older players and have a different mentality.
I’ve always been a forward or a striker. Sometimes, I used to play as a winger, but I’ve always been a striker. I really enjoy it.
My footballing idol growing up was the Brazilian striker, Adriano. He’s the kind of player I love: he’s strong, technically very good, quick, and scored a lot of goals. I used to love watching him at Parma and Inter Milan.
The games which I will always remember were my first one for Vitória Guimarães – my professional debut in Portugal against Benfica in 2017 – and my first goal for them, against Rio Ave FC in the same year.
My best friend in the squad is Mesaque Dju. I knew him from my time in Portugal and we played a lot against each other. He’s a good guy!
Olatunji Akinola works the hardest in training. There’s a few – everyone works hard – but for me, it’s probably Tunji! In terms of natural talent, I’d have to say Alfie Lewis.
The funniest person in the Under-23s is an easy one: me! I’m always playing jokes, always having fun with everyone, even when we’re training I’m always laughing with everyone. I like to know everyone’s feeling happy, and feeling comfortable and good.
Who takes longest to get ready after a game? Another easy one: me! It’s definitely me.
FIFA, Films & Food
When I play FIFA, I always play as Napoli. They’ve got fast players up front and a strong midfield as well. I’m always attacking and I’m always winning so I need fast players - players who know how to shoot, so Napoli’s the best team for me!
I don’t know who the best player is in the squad – I’ve not really played with anyone.
In terms of other video games, I only really play FIFA. I used to play Spiderman, and some card games, but now only really FIFA.
My favourite TV series? There are a lot, but I think it’s How to Get Away with Murder. Altogether one of my favourites, it’s sick. My favourite film has to be Focus, with Will Smith and Margot Robbie. It’s a great film.
My favourite food is from my country, Angola: funge. It’s African food, similar to fufu – a type of cassava flour porridge.
I like to eat at home, I’m not the kind of guy who always likes to go out for lunch or dinner, but I like Novikov restaurant – it’s in central London. The owner is Portuguese, so I like to go there when I do go out.