THE THURSDAY INTERVIEW: PAULO FERREIRA
Chelsea's longest serving full-back made his 200th appearance for the club against Birmingham. The afternoon after the night before, Paulo Ferreira spoke to the Official Chelsea Website about the landmark, helping new players and the weekend game ahead…
With a sweet contact of his right boot, followed by a flicked header from Didier Drogba and a point-blank range finish by Florent Malouda, Paulo Ferreira marked his 200th appearance for Chelsea with a moment to remember. It took him only two minutes of last night's game to do so.
The 32-year-old's selection at right-back for two home games running gave him the chance to play his part in the latter stages of a push for a high league placing, as he has done in a blue shirt so many times before.
It was a quality cross that lead to the early goal and was backed up with plenty more advances into the Birmingham half and a sturdy defensive display.
'It is good when you make a good cross and it gives a goal,' smiles Paulo as he thinks back to the game. 'I am not sure if it was my first touch but it was my first cross so it was good.
'I was not thinking about the game personally being my 200th. I was thinking to play a good game and to win and I am happy that happened. We played a good game and we have to do this until the end of the season.
'Of course 200 is a nice number but I am thinking more about this team and getting the results. It is a good number and I am happy for that but it could be much more because I came here at the same time as Didier [Drogba] and he has a 100 games more, so it could be better but I am happy for 200.'
It has been a fairly even spread of appearances since 2004 when Paulo was bought from Porto. Even in his first year when he was the undoubted first choice at right-back, a late season injury cut him down to 29 league games and 40 plus two sub appearances in all competitions. The next three seasons he always shared the right-back duty with a range of others but he always made over 20 league starts, with the occasional game at centre-back and left-back.
The season 2008/09 gave him only a handful of games and was ended in the March by a cruciate injury. He returned in September of last season and played an important part in the run-in towards the league title win, playing seven straight games when Branislav Ivanovic was out injured.
Last night was the Paulo's 28th game of this campaign. Chelsea Football Club was nearly a century old before an overseas player made 200 appearances for the club but since Dan Petrescu broke the duck at the turn of the last decade, 12 others reached the milestone before Paulo.
'Seven years is a long time,' he says. 'I feel happy here and the adaptation was easy for me and of course I feel a bit like part of a Chelsea family. I am pleased to be here for a long time.
'I have a lot of good memories and most years we win something. I have spent wonderful moments together with these players and others that came in those seven years.'
As one of the joint-third longest serving players and with Portuguese his native tongue, it fell naturally for Paulo to have been an important figure behind the scenes for a sizeable list of Portuguese and Brazilians who have come to work for Chelsea in recent years, an on-going process with Ramires and David Luiz arriving this campaign.
'Since you are one of the oldest in the club it is important to help them, especially as we speak the same language,' Paulo says. 'It is much easier the adaptation in the club if you can do that and I think if it was the opposite they would do the same for me.
'I will try always to help them. You can see that David Luiz and Ramires, when they arrived it was a little bit difficult at the beginning, but now they feel comfortable and this is what we need for them to show the quality they have as quickly as possible.'
You might wonder if these two new signings have introduced a small amount of Benfica v Porto banter into the Chelsea dressing room but this is not the case according to the former Porto man.
'Not really because I didn't play against those two. I played with Jose [Bosingwa] at Porto but we don't have this kind of rivalry here. I like to watch the games when the two teams play but it is nothing special.'
If there was banter then it would be the Porto contingent who would be enjoying themselves at the moment, with their former club having just won the league, managed by former Chelsea opposition scout Andre Villas who worked here when Jose Mourinho was in charge.
'They also beat Benfica again in the semi-final of the Portuguese Cup last night and Porto are in the semi-final of the Europa League, so Andre is doing really well. I wish him all the best and he has a big future because he is really young and he has a good quality.'
It is time to return to discussing Chelsea's immediate challenge however, and Paulo's cross for Malouda's goal last night brought back memories of West Ham away in September when he put another quality delivery onto the head of Michael Essien for one of his two goals in another 3-1 win.
Salomon Kalou also netted at Upton Park for the Blues with Scott Parker pulling one back for the Hammers, a very good lob and the first goal Chelsea conceded in the league this season.
'We did a good game there and we hope to repeat that at home. I am glad Scott is doing well there, he is a nice lad. I like him a lot and I used to see him a few times here in Cobham because he was still living here after he left.
'He gave everything on the pitch, even when he was only playing for 10 or 15 minutes, but it was difficult for Scott because Maka [Claude Makelele] was doing well at the time and he is a top player with a lot of experience.
'So let's see what happens on Saturday. We are six points from Manchester United and anything can happen and we have to believe. I hope on Saturday we can do the same as last time against West Ham, get the result and keep fighting because you never know.'