Our look back at Chelsea involvement in previous Euros finals continues with Portugal going agonisingly close to glory on home soil, at the same times as three of their stars were moving to west London.

When it comes to European football, 2004 was a year of shocks and underdog triumphs. For several players who were on their way to Chelsea that summer, there were experiences on both sides of that particular fence.

The change going on at Stamford Bridge is clear from the fact that the number of Blues involved at Euro 2004 was significantly higher at the end of the tournament than it had been at the beginning, as several players officially completed prearranged transfers at the start of July, and others continued to follow them throughout that month.

Blues at Euro 2004

Czech Republic
Petr Cech

Jesper Gronkjaer

Wayne Bridge
Joe Cole
Frank Lampard
John Terry

Marcel Desailly
William Gallas
Claude Makelele

Arjen Robben
Boudewijn Zenden

Ricardo Carvalho
Paulo Ferreira
Tiago Mendes

Among those arriving were the likes of Petr Cech, Arjen Robben and Portuguese trio Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira and Tiago Mendes.

The latter three’s moves owed more than a little to another arrival at the Bridge that summer. New head coach Jose Mourinho had just masterminded the first of the year’s big upsets by guiding a Porto side featuring Carvalho and Ferreira to glory in the Champions League.

Porto’s success was only part of the reason for the huge optimism around the Portuguese national team as they prepared to host Euro 2004, under the guidance of World Cup-winning Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari – coincidentally his next job would be in the Chelsea dugout in 2008.

They were able to add the core of Mourinho’s side – which also featured future Chelsea men Deco, Maniche and Jose Bosingwa – to the remnants of the ‘Golden Generation’ which had reached the semi-finals four years earlier, including the likes of Fernando Couto, Luis Figo and Rui Costa, not to mention the emergence of a certain teenage newcomer named Cristiano Ronaldo.

The shocks at Euro 2024 started early, though, and in a sign of things to come the hosts lost their opening game of the tournament to unfancied – to say the least – Greece, although Portugal recovered with wins over Russia and Spain to top the group regardless.

Others did not fare so well, as the big boys began to topple, with Germany, Italy and Spain all eliminated in the first round. From there the competition developed into two parallel storylines, which captured Europe in very different ways.

On one side of the knockout draw, long-time nearly-men Portugal looked like increasingly ominous favourites to their rivals, defeating England on penalties despite Frank Lampard’s third goal of the tournament (Lampard and John Terry both scored in the shoot-out too), before beating a Netherlands team featuring Arjen Robben to reach the final. Could this finally be their year after so many close calls, and at home to boot?

Across the divide, Greece continued to stun the continent by defying all expectations, most notably by knocking out France to become the first side ever to beat both the hosts and the holders in the same European Championship. That also ended Chelsea veteran and now French captain Marcel Desailly’s chances of winning an incredible third international title, after tasting glory at Euro 2000 and the 1998 World Cup.

That led to a final of contrasts, as hosts and now heavy favourites Portugal took on the giant-killing Greeks in Lisbon for a second time that summer, although neither country had ever won a major international trophy going into the game. For one of them, that was about to change.

No less than four players who appeared for Portugal in that final would go on to represent Chelsea, including two of that summer’s signings Carvalho and Ferreira, but it would not be a happy occasion for them.

The old wisdom about lightning not striking twice proved spectacularly wrong, as just like in the opening game of the tournament, Greece caused an even bigger shock by beating the hosts yet again, this time in the final for one of the biggest international tournament upsets in history.

It may have made uncomfortable watching for those Chelsea supporters planning to welcome our new Portuguese contingent to Stamford Bridge at the end of the tournament, as our new signings fell at the final hurdle on the biggest stage. As always when a host nation suffers an unexpected disappointment at a tournament, there were accusations that the pressure became too much for the players.

Given the incredible run of success which Carvalho and Ferreira went on to achieve with Chelsea, it is difficult to believe that was the case with those two players at least. In fact, it may well have worked the other way, as if anything Euro 2004 only enhanced those new arrivals’ desire to taste success with the Blues, after the high of Champions League glory as the underdogs in Gelsenkirchen was followed so closely by the opposite emotions in Lisbon.

They arrived in west London determined to prove any doubters wrong in a new country, driven by the chance to do so alongside friends and team-mates they had already built a bond with for club and country in their homeland.

In the beginning in 2004, it was almost at the same time,’ said Carvalho, recalling his arrival at Chelsea shortly after the Euro 2004 final. ‘It was Mourinho who signed the contract first and I think at that point it was already in my head to join.

‘After that the first player to sign was Paulo, and after Tiago from Benfica, and in the end was myself. So when I arrived, already there was the technical staff that I worked with in Porto and my team-mate Paulo, and Tiago who I’d built a great relationship with, from the national team.

‘I spent six years at Chelsea and in my first three years we had Paulo, then Tiago, then after that came Hilario, then Bosingwa, who I also have a very good relationship with, and others.’

Helped by their shared language, culture and experience - good and bad - those Portuguese newcomers wasted no time setting about their task, either. By the end of the 2004/05 season they had lifted the League Cup and Premier League trophies, sealing the Blues’ first top-flight title for 50 years.

A lot more silverware was to follow for our Portuguese players, but it all started in a torrent of mixed emotions in the summer of 2004. Thankfully it was the feelings of joy which became the more common at Chelsea, while Carvalho returned to finally win Portugal's first major trophy 12 years later, before joining the coaching staff for Euro 2024. But they are stories for another day.