Paulo Ferreira cost £13m, a British record for a fullback, when he moved from FC Porto to Chelsea, for the start of the 2004-2005 season. He was José Mourinho’s first signing as Chelsea manager, and it was questioned no end.
The incredibly fit right back, started his career in the Portuguese second division, playing for GD Estoril Praia. He had carved out a reputation as a remarkably solid defender, with the ability to deliver a dangerous cross. He had also played, albeit rarely, on the right side of the midfield.
His first experience of the Portuguese Super Liga, was season 2001/2002, when he moved to Vítoria Setúbal. In his first ever season of top tier football, he enhanced his burgeoning reputation as one of the most consistent fullbacks going around. Such was his rise, that then FC Porto manager José Mourinho decided, after just a single season in the Super Liga, that Ferreira would be perfect for his team.
In April 2002, Paulo Ferreira moved from Vítoria Setúbal to FC Porto. Mourinho bought the young fullback, to add stability to the backline, in the hope of a Portuguese title. He got so much more than he bargained for! Ferreira consistently starred at right back, as Mourinho’s budget priced Porto swept all before them. Not only did they claim the Portuguese Super Liga, but they also won the Portuguese Cup. Added to that was the UEFA Cup, where Ferreira played perhaps the best game of his young career, in the final, against Old Firm giants Celtic. FC Porto had made their mark in Europe, as the likes of Vítor Baia, Ricardo Carvalho and Jorge Costa, showed that Portuguese football was bursting with talent.
He also made his national team debut, in September 2002, against England. This came on the back of his 27 U-21 caps and his fantastic season with Vítoria Setúbal, as well as a strong start to the new campaign with Porto.
The next season, 2003/2004, was even better for Mourinho’s Porto. Although they were defeated in the final of the Portuguese Cup by Benfica, and coincidentally Ferreira’s future team mate Tiago, they successfully defended their Super Liga title, Ferreira playing all but two of the matches.
The true icing the cake, was FC Porto’s victory in the Champions League Final of 2004, against French side AS Monaco, who had knocked out Chelsea in the semi-finals. Ferreira played every minute of all thirteen matches. As usual his consistently solid displays stood out, and he was voted into the UEFA Team of 2003.
He travelled to Euro 2004, as Luiz Felipe Scolari’s first choice right back, and started the first game of the tournament against Greece. His error allowed Karagounis to score and Ferreira was subsequently dropped for Miguel.
As this was going on, José Mourinho was named as Claudio Ranieri’s successor as Chelsea manager. FC Porto braced themselves for a raid on their players and staff.
Paulo Ferreira didn’t return to the Portugal team until they played Greece in the knockout stages, after a first half injury to Miguel. He couldn’t prevent another 1-0 win for the eventual Champions of Europe. He was obviously disappointed at the way his first major tournament panned out, and he was keen to make amends during the next season.
Mourinho rated him very highly, so much so, that his first act as manager of Chelsea, was to pay a British record fee for a fullback, £13m to his former club FC Porto, for the services of Ferreira. He didn’t exactly endear himself to the fans with his early performances. Although they were defensively sound, he rarely crossed the halfway line in attack, in stark contrast to his opposite, Wayne Bridge. But Mourinho knew what he was getting when he paid the money, and as the season wore on, he established himself as the Premiership’s most consistent right back, and his attacking forays became more regular.
His season ended early, when in March 2005 he sustained an ankle injury that left the Blues without their most dependable fullback. Johnson, Huth and Gérémí all filled in admirably, but none were as consistent as Ferreira.
With 2005/2006 season underway, Ferreira is seemingly out of favour with manager Mourinho. With the addition of Del Horno, Chelsea have a lot of defenders, and Gallas has often been preferred as the starting right back. Paulo has been dependable when called upon, and won a recall for the 2-0 win at Highbury.
To date, Paulo has never scored a goal in his professional football career.