Domingos Quina was speaking to match programme THE HORNET – see Tuesday’s Coventry edition for the full, in-depth interview.
ON HIS AFRICAN UPBRINGING
I was born in November 1999 in Guinea-Bissau, which is on the western side of Africa. I lived there up until I was eight and it was a very different experience. I’d say it was quiet. There was nothing much happening and I was young so I would just play around and go to school. There was nothing else to do. I always played football and I think that’s what a lot of young people do there.
My dad Samuel was a professional footballer. I never saw him play because by the time I was old enough he had retired due to a problem with his knee, but he played over 100 games for Benfica and was also a Portugal international. I’ve watched videos of him on YouTube and even though he sometimes gives me bits of advice nowadays, he just lets me be myself and learn from my own mistakes.
When I was eight I moved to Portugal to play for Benfica. I went to boarding school and after I’d finished training I’d go straight to the park to play another game of football. At Benfica we played 7 vs. 7 and we would play in every position so we had a lot of fun. I would probably say that was the best time of my football life so far because it was so enjoyable. Most of the people I played with were my friends and we all knew each other really well.
ON MOVING TO LONDON
I think I was 13 when I came to live in England. My dad said I should come here as it might be better for me to learn. For the first year I was here by myself, which is quite big for a 13-year-old but I was playing football so I didn’t think it was that hard. The language barrier was the hardest thing but I didn’t think about it too much. My teammates were nice and I had no-one I could speak Portuguese with so it forced me to learn English quick.
When I first came over I thought I was going to Man City but on the second day I went to train at Fulham for one or two days and they decided they wanted to keep me. My agent at the time told me he could get me into Chelsea though and I ended up going there and signing for them for a few years instead.
I was 16 when Chelsea offered me a pro deal. But I was seeing older players who I thought were really good – like Nate [Chalobah], Jeremie Boga and Charly Musonda – not playing in the first team so I decided maybe it was better to go somewhere else where I’d have more chance of playing. It was brave but I will always back myself and if something comes to mind I just do it and see what happens. That’s when I decided to go to West Ham.
ON HIS FIRST YEAR AT WATFORD
My aim had been to play in the Premier League as quick as possible but that was not happening [at West Ham]. They offered me a new deal but if I wasn’t playing I didn’t see the point in signing. I had other offers – I could have gone to Spain or some other Premier League clubs. I was waiting on another Premier League club to do their business but that didn’t happen. At the last minute the deal didn’t go through so my agent called me on transfer deadline day saying ‘What do you think about Watford?’
I didn’t think about it twice, I just said yes. I knew straight away I wanted to come here because I wanted a new start. I came straight to the training ground and signed the deal really quickly just before the deadline. To be fair, Watford didn’t even tell me if I was going into the first team or not but I trusted myself and believed I could do well here.
I’m very happy with how my first year here went. Making my Premier League debut and scoring a goal against Cardiff as well – that was probably my highlight. I wasn’t expecting to win Young Player of the Year so it was a surprise when they read my name but I was happy. It shows I did something good and I was blessed. I have the trophy right in front of my TV in the living room so I can see it every day! Last year was a wonderful year for me, but this year I’m looking to step it up.
ON HIS PLAYING STYLE
People say I’m very confident on the ball for a young player but that’s just the way I play. When I don’t get the ball I feel like I’m not in the game. I feel like I need the ball so I can be myself. I’ll make mistakes but the more I get the ball the sharper I get. I’m not scared because every player makes mistakes, that’s the way I think about it.
I’m 19 and I’m still learning. Last season was my first proper one in the Premier League and I thought I just had to be myself and show people what I can do because some people might like it. If I feel like I’m being me, I’m cool with that.
ON INTERNATIONAL ASPIRATIONS
My ultimate dream is to play for Portugal in the senior team. Everyone that plays football wants to represent their country; they want to make their family proud and themselves proud. I hope one day I can reach that level and play for the national team.
I don’t put pressure on myself though. If it happens it happens. I know how good the Portugal squad is and I understand that in football it takes time. I’m not rushing anything, I’m just doing me, trying to play as much as I can and show people what I can do. Hopefully I can get there one day though and do what my dad did nearly 30 years ago.