FERREIRA’S WONDERFUL UEFA NIGHT
One member of the current Chelsea squad has lifted the trophy we are playing for in Amsterdam tonight - Paulo Ferreira who was a UEFA Cup winner back in 2003 with Porto.
In one of the competition's most memorable finals, played in Seville against a backdrop of passionate support, the side managed by Jose Mourinho beat Martin O'Neill's Celtic 3-2. Ferreira and his team-mates went ahead twice - through Derlei just before half-time and with a goal from Dmitri Alenichev, set-up by Deco early in the second half, but each time Henrik Larsson levelled.
The match was eventually decided five minutes from the end of extra-time when Derlei scored his second.
Ferreira shares his memories from a decade ago with the official Chelsea website…
No Portuguese team and no Scottish team had won the UEFA Cup before. Porto were an emerging side. The final must have felt like a huge occasion.
'For me it was amazing because it was my first year in a big club and I had never played in the competition before. I remembered being a young boy and sitting at home watching this kind of big game in the evenings, imagining playing, so for me it was like a dream to play that competition, and especially in my first year to reach the final.'
With the season Porto were having, you must have felt confident of beating Celtic.
'We had a wonderful team and we won the league and the Portuguese Cup as well, so we went to the final with huge confidence. We knew and we believed we could beat Celtic because we were playing wonderful football but in the end it was a tough game. When the referee blew the whistle in the end it was a relief and a great feeling.'
With less than 10 minutes of the match played, you were asked to switch position.
'At the start of the game I was playing right-back and then Costinha I think pulled a hamstring so Jose brought on Ricardo Costa who is now at Valencia and made him play right-back. I moved to midfield and it was okay because it was a position I didn't know well but I had played there before, although not for a long time which made it a bit difficult in the beginning until you get used to the opposition - but I felt comfortable there.'
With small players such as Deco and Maniche in midfield against a big Celtic side, was the thinking for you to replace the aerial strength Costinha provided there?
'We knew the Scottish league was a bit like English football. They had dangerous players up front like Henrik Larsson who was a top striker, and Chris Sutton was a big player. We knew in the case they were losing they could use him for the long balls.'
Celtic did play a physical game that evening.
'They gave everything and it was the mentality of Scottish teams. They were really tough and went into every challenge with everything. We were more technical, more about ball possession. Even today in Portugal people say to me that in terms of emotion and atmosphere, this game was more than even the Champions League final the following season against Monaco. It was a wonderful atmosphere there.'
How important was Deco to the victory?
'It was my first season at Porto but I knew Deco before, I had played against him, and he was a top player. For us that season he was amazing. When we were tired we just needed to find him and give him the ball for us to rest because we knew that he could do something from that. He could hold the ball, get free-kicks and take one or two people on easily and give the team a bit of breath and rest and recovery. That season he was unbelievable and it was a pleasure to play with him and watch him.'
What did you all do to celebrate afterwards?
'I remember I was feeling is this real? Is this happening to me coming from a club that was two years in the second division? Then I went up to the first division and in my first season I was fighting to survive and not go down again and I had a good season. That is why I moved to Porto and then I was playing in a club that won the championship and the Portuguese Cup. Everything was happening so fast to me that it was a dream.
'When we arrived in Porto the airport was completely full of people and it was amazing to see, and we went to the stadium as well to celebrate there and the stadium was almost completely full. Holding that trophy was amazing, thinking this is something I watched on television.'
One of the Celtic players you competed against in midfield in that final was Stiliyan Petrov who unfortunately announced his retirement last week.
'When he moved to Aston Villa, the first game I played against him I remember in the tunnel shaking hands and he was smiling because when you play against someone in that final and you see each other again, there was that look saying you won, I lost. Because it was a wonderful final, even if you speak with someone from Celtic from that time they will tell you how beautiful it was.
'Every game since when we played each otherwe changed shirts as well, and for me I was really happy to see him again after what has happened to him because I was lucky to find him in the tunnel one game. I just wanted to try to motivate him because of course for a player having to stop for health reasons it is hard, but sometimes other things are more important. I was lucky to see him and wish all the best for him and for his family - he is a wonderful man.'