With the Blues playing away this weekend, our former midfielder Ramires is the player we turn to for memories of his time performing for Chelsea away from Stamford Bridge.
The Brazilian now plays in China for Jiangsu Suning but he has been back in London recently, and he recalls some very happy and successful years as one of our players…
Let’s take you back to when you joined Chelsea. Do you remember much from then?
When I arrived here it was the summer of 2010. I was in Benfica and there was the opportunity to come to Chelsea and when I arrived here, for me everything changed. I knew the type of players who were here like Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Nicolas Anelka, Florent Malouda. They had a lot of big players and I was young and it was amazing. I had good support as well in the club with Carlo Ancelotti and I improved myself and did the best to help the club to play very well.
I did my best to stay a long time and I ended up staying five-and-a-half years. They were amazing years for me and so I am very happy with that and I think without Chelsea, I could not be Ramires like I am today. I went to the Chelsea-Man United game this month and this is the first time I come back since I left, and I was amazed. When the fans see me and recognise, they come over and they always have a lot of respect for me. I am very happy because of this.
On that day you joined, if someone had told you that by the time you left you would have won every major trophy in England and European competition, would you have believed them?
That is why I said that without Chelsea, I could not be who I am. I have a lot of trophies, important trophies, and I never imagined in my life before I arrived at Chelsea that five-and-a-half years later it would be like that. When I arrived here my first thinking was just to play, play and enjoy being at Chelsea. I knew that it is very hard to come to Chelsea and play but I did.
Your first goal came away from home in January 2011…
I put myself under a lot of pressure about that goal, because I was playing a lot of games but I never scored a goal for Chelsea. Sometimes the players came and said no problem, easy, take your time, the goal will come, keep working. I kept working and my goal was against Bolton away and it was amazing. Didier held me and all the guys came and jumped together.
You went on to score goals in big games, including at Wembley against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final and against Liverpool in the final. Generally that team performed on the big occasions…
Of course we had a good team and especially in the big games, I think when you have a good team with guys with character, they show that in the big games. I think I did my best and the team also did their best and when Chelsea played against a big team, always Chelsea was amazing. It was normal for the players here. Playing at your top level.
Of course when you think of Ramires goals, one tends to come to mind above all others…
Wherever I go, I always meet at least one Chelsea fan and always they come to me and say ‘Oh! Your goal against Barcelona!’ I think when Chelsea fans think about the big games, they think about that one.
We had training in the week before and we were doing some finishing and David [Luiz] came to me and said ‘Rami, when the goalkeeper comes, you must chip the ball,’ and I said okay, but in training I did one or two but the ball did not go in the goal.
Then in the game, I had that opportunity. Frank Lampard’s pass was amazing, the ball arrived for the one touch and finish. He put the ball in front of me and when I arrived there I chipped the ball, but I saw Valdes coming and Dani Alves come from the left with another defender behind, Pique or Puyol. I saw Valdes coming and if I shot to the side, maybe he could do the save so when I saw the goal behind him I thought the only way is that, and I did it. When the ball dropped, I looked and I ran and then I looked again to see if the ball goes in. That was an amazing moment for me.
You had been shown a yellow card just before then which meant you would miss the final. Were you aware and was that playing on your mind?
No. When we finished the game, Roberto [Di Matteo] came to me and said you are out for the final. That surprised me so I was thinking about only the game, I don’t think about the final. I was in the match to win that match. And the team won the final so that was okay.
What was it like watching the Champions League final from the stands?
It was hard because all the time I was thinking I could have been on the pitch helping my team-mates. That feeling is not good but that’s football. The team did very well and we won the Champions League!
At the end of such a historic season for the club, you won the Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year award…
I have that trophy in my house and whenever I look at it, I think about how amazing the season was for me. I was very happy. When you are voted by your team-mates it’s very special because we had a lot of big players and they gave me that award which was amazing.
Your energy and stamina levels are famous, and in 2012/13 you played 59 games…
We played in the Europa League, the Club World Cup and reached the semi-finals of the League Cup and FA Cup. We had a lot of games and it was crazy. The coach and the staff always wanted to put the best team on the pitch but they had to put one in and take one out to give some recovery time. But we had a good squad which is important because when the 11 starters are tired you have another 11 who are ready to play in the same way. That’s very good and it helped a lot that season.
One of your most memorable away games came in the championship-winning season of 2014/15 when you played out wide at Liverpool…
I was injured. I had treatment and Jose Mourinho came to me and said ‘Rami, how are you?’ I said I’m okay and he said ‘You’re going to play against Liverpool’. I looked at him and looked at the physio, but then he said ‘You’re going to play as a right winger, but more close so you can mark Sterling’. I said, ‘Oh my god! I’m injured and I need to mark Sterling, but it was okay, I did the job well and he took me out after about 60 minutes. I did my work, I was very happy with that and he was also happy. I did what he said and I did it with my heart so because of that, everything was good.
Also in that successful season you scored great goals at Everton and Leicester…
I played at Leicester in the game before we won the title and scored that goal with my left foot. That game against Everton was amazing because it was 6-3, a big game. That season, because I’d never won the Premier League, when I saw the opportunity to win it I was very happy.
Do you remember your last goal for the club, a long-range rocket away at Newcastle in September 2015?
Yes, I remember it. I’ll never forget it because it was around that game that my little son was born. He was born on the Thursday, on the Friday we travelled and the game was on the Saturday, so I always think about my son. I was on the bench and Mourinho called me. It was 2-0 to Newcastle, I went on the pitch, Eden passed to me and I controlled the ball and shot. It was an amazing goal as well because the goalkeeper was very good. After that we ended up drawing with Willian scoring and I had a chance to score another goal to make it 3-2 but, okay, it ended 2-2.
Do you still watch Chelsea?
Yes, of course. The time in China is in front so when Chelsea play at 3pm or midday it’s okay because it’s about 10pm and they show the games there live. Any time I have the opportunity I watch the games and support Chelsea like a fan. I speak with the guys and I still have friends here.
You also have friends who are now opponents when you play in China…
Yes, before we were team-mates here and now we play against each other in China, people like Mikel and Oscar. I worked with Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea and now he’s in Shanghai but that’s football and football is good because of that. One year you are here with the guys and then you go, and another guy goes, and you play against them.
What are your thoughts on Chelsea this season?
I’m supporting and for me we believe in titles. When Chelsea go to the pitch I watch and whether we win, lose or draw, I will always support. There are a lot of games left and it’s not easy because Man City are doing very well, but we have good players and Chelsea can win the title. It won’t be easy but they can win the title.
Did you enjoy the Man United game?
Yes, it’s been a long time since I watched a big game like Chelsea v Man United. I was there and it was fantastic.