FERREIRA: DEFENDING JESUS

Posted on: Wed 04 Apr 2012

Last week, Lisbon's Estadio da Luz witnessed a clear example of a pupil proving to his former teacher that he had learnt well.

On this occasion however, the teacher had limited reason to be pleased as he watched Paulo Ferreira and Chelsea take a 1-0 lead back to England for tonight's second leg.

It is not that Ferreira isn't grateful to current Benfica coach Jorge Jesus, the man who taught him the ins and outs of playing at right-back, but it is the nature of sport that once the 33-year-old was unexpectedly asked to start the first leg, all he wanted to do was inflict defeat on his former manager, and the consensus is he played well.

Jesus (pictured below) was the coach at Vitoria Setubal, Ferreira's club in Portugal prior to his move to Porto and the multiple trophies that followed.

Jorge Jesus

'He was an important person at the beginning of my professional career,' confirms Ferreira.

'He was the one that taught me all the tactical things as a right-back because it was when he went to Setubal that I returned from the national team having played right-back for the first time.

'I played a game away in Holland as a right-back because the usual right-back for the national team had got a second yellow card in the game before, and he had to miss the game. The national manager talked to me and asked me if I could help by playing in that position.

'I was happy to help,' he continues. 'To play for the national team was something really important for me. We ended up getting a good result - we drew 1-1 - and when I got back from the national team was when we changed manager at Setubal.

'So in my first session with Jorge Jesus, he just started me as a right-back. He had watched that game and he liked me there, so I was a right-back.'

Previously the young Ferreira had played either as a right- or a left-winger. Then as now he was comfortable swapping flanks.

'In the beginning it was really difficult to learn all the defensive actions and reactions. Playing winger means you are facing the full-back all the time and full-back is the opposite - you have to stop the winger.

'He was the one who taught me a lot about how to defend well and how to position yourself defensively. Because of this, he was one of the most important managers in my professional career.'

Roberto Di Matteo explained that needing fresh players and also wanting those familiar with the environment in Benfica's stadium had influenced his selection for the first leg. Ferreira fulfilled both criteria but did it also help knowing the finer points of how Jesus asks his teams to play?

'He wasn't coaching one of the big clubs in Portugal at the time I played for him,' Ferreira reflects.

'It was about playing to stay in the first division with different kinds of players as well.

'But he is someone who has huge passion for football and he likes to see everything perfect, especially tactically. He loves to see the players doing what he sees to be the best things tactically.

'I knew when he moved to Benfica that he could be a champion and in his first year there he was, and that shows how good a coach he is.'

Tonight, should he be asked to play against Benfica for a second time in the tie, Ferreira will once again aim to show his former boss how good a right-back he became.