Carlos Mendes

I’m first generation Portuguese. My parents came here, worked hard, always had an attitude that nothing is given to you and you have to work for everything. I think that has rubbed off on me, both growing up and at the professional level. I’ve always been someone who’s hardworking, determined and passionate, but I also believe in humility. I’m someone who’s always kept my head down. Don’t let the highs take you too high and the lows get you too low.

The fact that I’ve not only had a professional career but that I’ve played most of it in the community and city where I grew up is special. It’s special to play in front of my mentors, my coaches and my family who have helped me, all along the way, achieve my goal. Long Island is always going to be home—it’s so diverse and has a great energy about it. I’m always going to have a deep connection to it and I’m very proud to be from Long Island. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family, my friends and my community.

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Respect is a huge thing, it’s about leading by example and treating people the way you’d like to be treated. There’s always a balance. Even when you disagree with a teammate, if you talk to somebody on a certain level, people can understand and relate. You’re not going to always agree and whether it’s on the field or off the field, I try to listen and learn from others. If you do those things, a lot of people will believe in you and follow you. That’s something I always tried to do. I might not have been the most recognized player to play for the club but I always gave 100 percent and tried to respect my teammates and my opponents. And hopefully I made the club, the fans and my family proud. Having respect for others is key to being a good man. That and a connection to your community and your roots.

In my retirement, I want to be involved in the game, either in a front office or even on the field coaching. And I have soccer academies that I’ve started here that I’d like to put more time into. CM4 Soccer I started with my brother and we work with local kids to provide soccer education.

I also have a large family, I’m the oldest of four. Spending time with my wife, my son, as well as my brothers and sisters, the extended family, that’s what I love to do most, whether it’s a day in Manhattan or the beaches. Growing up in Mineola, there’s a big Portuguese community, that had an influence on me—the food, music, lunches, sense of family…The European lifestyle is a little more laid back and I think my style reflects that—sporty, elegant, but simple. Being a pro athlete, once in a while you have to dress up, put on a suit, but most days, it’s jeans and a T-shirt, new sneakers, a watch and a hat. I’m a big hat guy, I love Travis Mathew hats. (He’s a golfer.) I love the brand and love the clothing. And watches, again, I’m always wearing a watch, I love Breitling.

I got my first tattoo when I turned 18. Then after college I started adding and eventually I ended up with the sleeves. My tattoos represent what I’m all about—my family. Some of them represent the things that helped shape me as a person, what I love most.

Miscellany: D.O.B. is December 25. Favorite color is navy blue. Weapon of choice: nunchucks—I haven’t used them in about twenty years but I had some serious skills back then. Math was my worst subject in high school—it’s kind of hard when you never go to class. I’m a music guy, but I’d have to say David Mathews Band because I’m a drummer and I idolize Carter Beauford. Titanic or Gone with the Wind? I have no idea.