When you look at football clubs today, you often see players with big ego’s, players demanding high wages, fall outs, players thinking they are bigger than the club and general AWOL behavior. What ever happened to players who play for their love of the game and their club, players who would put there own life on the line for the club? I can safely say, there are but a few of these good men left. One of them, being long time servant of Chelsea FC, Portuguese International, Paulo Ferreira.

As I watch Chelsea kick off their 2012-13 pre-season against Seattle Sounders in America, I find it refreshing to see a starting place for Paulo Ferreira, at left back. Well, I guess that’s just another one of his strengths, he is versatile and has played everywhere across the back four, and even as a midfielder for Chelsea. He actually impressed me more as a holding midfielder than he did at right back. He turned out a good performance against Seattle, proving his worth still at the age of 33.

Paulo is a ‘clubman’ a true person who plays for his love of the club. He has had many opportunities to leave Chelsea and join a lower club in order to get first team matches, most notably an offer from West Ham, but he chose to stay. I don’t think one person who is a part of the Chelsea setup would take that away from him, he wanted to stay, even though he has not featured regularly, and hardly at all these past few seasons.

Jose Mourinho bought Paulo with him from Porto in 2004, the fresh faced 25-year-old full back had been causing a storm over in Portugal and was rated as one of the best right backs in Europe. Mourinho rated him, and we all know what a world class manager he is, so naturally Paulo became a fans favourite. At the time, he signed for £13.2 million, which lets be honest, the service we have had out of Paulo, was an absolutely brilliant deal for us. He impressed in his first two seasons and was featuring as a regular, always very solid and reliable.

Reliable was the most popular term used to describe Paulo throughout his career, even now, you can always rely on Paulo to step in to the team, even after not playing the whole season, and put in a decent performance. Reliable and solid, you can always put your trust in Paulo to put in the performance and provide the cover.

The following seasons after 2006-07 proved to be frustrating for Paulo Ferreira, he lost his position to a number of other right backs including Khalid Boulahrouz, and then to midfielder Geremi. The emergence of young French midfielder Lassana Diarra further reduced the playing time for Ferreira, as Mourinho saw it fit to play the French international in the full back position. However, Ferreira did play the full 120 minutes of Chelsea’s 1–0 FA Cup final win over Manchester United. Mourinho was losing confidence in Paulo, and Paulo’s own confidence was dipping as a result.

In came Juliano Belletti to the frame, and with him and Essien covering the right back position, Ferreira then saw himself as third choice right back. Most players at this point would grow frustrated and leave the club. Not Paulo, he stayed, fought hard, trained harder, and took his chances whenever he could.

So what happened to this highly rated Portuguese right back after he joined from Porto? I think with Ferreira, he suffers with confidence lapses. If he makes a mistake, it goes to his head and affects his performances for most of the season. But the fact of the matter is, he is a quality player, very comfortable on the ball and does a good job, but in modern day terms, he just doesn’t provide that Ex-factor, he doesn’t give anything more than solid, reliable performances, and Chelsea need more than that from their right back.

Personally I rate Paulo, I would have even preferred him over Jose Boswingwa at right back, but I think once he’s been labelled as a reliable back-up player, thats where he stayed.

Sam Wells (@Sam_Hamlet) recalls his best memory of Paulo on Twitter, he says “I remember his last minute equaliser against Blackburn in the league cup quarter final in ’09/’10 season ,It was in extra time and Blackburn were winning 3-2, Paulo then ran in to score in the 120min. Though unfortunately we ended up losing on penalities”

ferreira, blackburn rovers

At the end of the day, Ferreira is a Portuguese international and has featured 62 times for his country, which cannot be ignored. Unfortunately it was a similar situation as with Chelsea, he lost his position to players that offered just that little bit more in his position.

Jose Mourinho hit the nail on the head when he was quoted describing Paulo Ferreira as “a player who will never be man of the match but will always score 7/10 for his individual display. Nobody can argue this statement.

Did you know that Paulo Ferreira has often featured as the Chelsea captain, in the cup or against lower opposition. He is highly respected by the Chelsea staff, especially when they rely on him to jump in as a holding midfielder when needs must.

Chelsea supporters have many players that they hold in a special place in their hearts for their commitment to the club, and Paulo is definitely one of those players. Whenever he comes on, the name ‘Paulo Ferreira’ rings around the stadium. He will go down as a legend when the curtains finally close on his time with Chelsea, but not your typical Gianfranco Zola legend, a different kind of legend, one that plays for the love of the club and not the money, one that would play in any game, anytime, under any kind of pressure, and put in a decent performance in whatever position you ask him to play.

So far, Ferreira has appeared 211 times for Chelsea and will not gain many more appearances, but I still feel he has an important role to play this season for Chelsea as back-up. He will be called upon, and when we win the trophies again this season, you will as usual see Paulo Ferreira celebrating the victory more than any other player. Amazing, Paulo Ferreira, We salute you.

With his contract ending in 2013, will this be his final season with Chelsea? I’m afraid it will be. He will surely move on to a new club as a free agent, and finish his career strong, possibly back in Portugal. Whatever happens, he will carry his deserved place in Chelsea’s history for being one of the m0st reliable players ever to wear the shirt.

Simon Phillips – News Editor

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