When you look at football clubs today, you often see players with big ego’s, demanding high wages, falling out with managers over being forced to play in the wrong position and generally thinking they are bigger than the club. 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 a long time servant of Chelsea FC, Portuguese International, Paulo Ferreira.
As I watch Chelsea struggle though the season of 2012-13, I find it refreshing to see the great club man that is Paulo Ferreira, still involved in the squad, gaining the odd cameo role from time to time, in whatever position he is thrown in to. 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. It was very pleasing to the ears and eyes when on Wednesday evening during our comfortable victory against Leeds, Rafa Benitez decided to put Paulo on for a few more minutes of football in a Chelsea shirt, much to the delight of the adoring Chelsea travelling faithful, who once again rang his name around the stadium proudly. Paulo is much loved and respected amongst the Chelsea supporters, purely because of his commitment to our club.
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 Michael 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 how does a player who features so little for a club, gain that much love and respect from the fans? Well, a number of reasons will result in being received that way. Obviously his service to the club, being here 8 years and being just a squad player is an amazing achievement and test of character. The fact he always wears a smile and is a gentlemen also goes far in the game. Whenever Chelsea win a trophy, you will always see Paulo celebrating just as much, if not more than his counterparts, even if he has not featured in the competition.
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? He is highly thought of by members of the Chelsea staff, any manager who comes in is always confident enough to put Paulo in the mix 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. 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.
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 and committed club players ever to wear the shirt. A true blue.