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Player Profile: Ricardo Carvalho  

  

Ricardo CarvalhoFull name: Ricardo Alberto Silveira Carvalho
Position: Defender
Date of Birth: 18 May 1978
Birthplace: Amarante, Portugal


Manchester United were already two goals down and reeling, so they didn’t spot the figure running on to Joe Cole’s pass. Ricardo Carvalho had started the move in his own half and would now finish it, slipping the ball past Edwin van der Sar without breaking his characteristically elegant stride. It was the coup de grace in the match that made Chelsea champions for the second season in a row and commentators, together with most of those in Stamford Bridge, marvelled at the unlikely scorer. On reflection, there couldn’t have been a more fitting man to put the cherry on the Premiership cake.

Much is made of the loyalty Jose Mourinho inspires in his players, but the relationship is reciprocal. And perhaps more than any other player, Ricardo Carvalho has been central to the success that Mourinho has enjoyed in recent seasons.

After Carvalho complained at being left out of Chelsea’s 2005/06 opener at Wigan, his coach snapped that he should “take an IQ test,” and many assumed that the defender’s days at Stamford Bridge were numbered. To read so much into a transient tiff ignored the fruitful relationship that had gone before, and that of course continued afterwards.

Carvalho was originally a product of Porto’s youth programme, and between 1997 and 2001 had loan spells at Leca, Setubal and Alverca, but it wasn’t until the reign of Mourinho that he really started making big strides forward.

Champions League ever-present

After being part of the side that lifted the treble of league, cup and UEFA Cup in 2003, Carvalho started to establish himself as one of the most classy and composed defenders in European football during 2003/04. He made his debut for the national team in November 2003 – having previously gained caps at every age-group level – and was the only player to play every minute of Porto’s Champions League winning campaign.

It was in Europe that Carvalho proved himself as a player of real substance and versatility, playing as a midfielder for several Champions League games, and looking every inch the thoroughbred in the middle of the park in a way that few ball-playing centre-backs would have been capable of. 

Having already shown his unflappability by often replacing Jorge Costa at the heart of Porto’s defence, he stepped in for another Portuguese defensive legend, Fernando Couto, in Euro 2004 after the opening match defeat to Greece, and went on to play every match as the team headed through to the final. Even though Portugal fell short at the last hurdle, Carvalho’s near-perfect year earned him the title of UEFA Best Defender of 2004.

Massive transfer fee

It also earned him his move to Chelsea, whose meeting of president Pinto da Costa’s €26.5 million asking price blew away competition from Real Madrid for Carvalho’s signature.

Despite missing a few months in his first season at Stamford Bridge through injury, Carvalho is now sitting pretty having won four successive league titles (two with Porto, two with Chelsea) to go with a UEFA Cup, Champions League and Carling Cup. And Mourinho’s talisman still pops up with important goals. In November 2006 it was Carvalho who headed a second-half equaliser at Old Trafford to frustrate United’s attempts to put one over on the champions.

by Andy Brassell (15/02/2007)

ClubAppearances*Goals
FC Porto733
Setubal (loan)252
Alverca (loan)291
Chelsea**1117
   
 PORTUGAL**494

* League appearances only

** Up to 18 February 2009

Comments (1)
Carvalho at Real Madrid
1 Sunday, 03 November 2013 03:09
Alberto Vinicio
Many merengue fans quickly forgot how when Mourinho came to RM he brought Carvalho to shore up a defense that lost quite a few leads during the Liga season under Pellegrini. Aside from the 0-5 to Barcelona the RM defense was much improved since then and for over two years Carvalho was a constant an reliable presence helping turn the team into a powerhouse again.

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