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Chelsea’s Portuguese stars on the international stage

As the reigning European champions hosting the inaugural UEFA Nations League finals begins today, Inside Blue looks at the Portuguese stars who have helped to bring glory to Stamford Bridge and also made their mark for their country on the international stage.

There wasn’t much of a connection between Chelsea and Portugal before 2004 but players from the Iberian nation have made a big contribution to the success of the Blues during the past 15 years.

Chelsea’s appointment of Jose Mourinho in 2004 began an influx of Portuguese talent into west London as Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho followed their manager from Porto and midfielder Tiago was signed from Benfica.

All three had been part of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side at Euro 2004 with centre-back Carvalho named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament following a series of fine performances, as Portugal reached the final but were surprisingly beaten 1-0 by Greece.

The Portuguese trio made up for that disappointment by helping Chelsea to a double success in the 2004/05 season when we beat Liverpool in the League Cup final and won the league championship for the first time in half a century.

Tiago moved to Lyon the following season but Ferreira and Carvalho remained with the Blues and helped secure a second consecutive league title the following season.

Carvalho went on to enjoy another fine tournament at the 2006 World Cup with the centre-back named in the All-Star Team as Portugal reached the semi-finals.

There was another Chelsea connection in that Portuguese team in midfielder Maniche, who spent the second half of the 2005/06 season on loan at the Bridge. While he failed to sparkle with the Blues, he enjoyed a good World Cup, scoring Portugal’s winner in the last 16 against the Netherlands.

Ferreira only played twice as a right-back in Germany but his versatility saw him deployed as a right-back for all four of Portugal’s matches at Euro 2008 as they reached the quarter-finals, while Carvalho remained a rock at the centre of defence.

They were joined at the Bridge the following season by Scolari, who added to the Portuguese flavour at the Bridge by signing right-back Jose Bosingwa and midfielder Deco and bringing in winger Ricardo Quaresma on loan from Inter Milan in mid-season.

Bosingwa missed the 2010 World Cup through injury while Deco and Ferreira made their final international appearances at that tournament as Portugal bowed out in the round of 16 after a 1-0 loss to eventual champions Spain.

Also in that 2010 squad were future Chelsea goalkeeper Eduardo, who allowed only one goal in four matches, and midfielder Raul Meireles, who was a team-mate of Bosingwa and Ferreira during our victorious run to the Champions League two years later.

Carvalho, who left for Real Madrid after helping the Blues to win the Double in 2009/10, also appeared at the tournament in South Africa and while he announced his retirement a year later, he returned to international duty in 2014 and at 38, he was the oldest outfield player at Euro 2016 as Portugal finally won their first major international title.

That team also featured Quaresma, who played only five games for the Blues during his loan spell in 2009 and was not used by Portugal at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and Euro 2012.

However, he played a big role in the Euro 2016 success, scoring an extra-time winner against Croatia in the round of 16, converting the winning penalty in the quarter-final shoot-out against Poland and then coming on to replace the injured Cristiano Ronaldo in the 1-0 win over hosts France in the final.

- We will be hearing from Ross Barkley ahead of England's semi-final in the UEFA Nations League tomorrow. 

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