We say farewell this weekend to a number of Chelsea players whose contracts come to an end today (Sunday).
Among them is Paulo Ferreira, who over nine years at the club became a fan favourite thanks to his dedicated approach to the game and unswerving loyalty to the Blues.
Ferreira arrived at Chelsea as a European champion in 2004, one of the stars of Jose Mourinho’s Porto side that had swept all before them.
He was joined in the Blues backline by former clubmate and Portuguese national team colleague Ricardo Carvalho, and was immediately into the winning groove in England, playing his part in Chelsea’s first league title in 50 years and helping set a Premier League defensive record of just 15 goals conceded, as well as earning a Carling Cup with victory over Liverpool.
In his second season, he was a less regular choice with William Gallas and later Geremi often preferred at right-back, though he remained number one choice in the Champions League, although that campaign would end prematurely with defeat to Barcelona.
That season Ferreira scored his first goal since moving to a top-level club, in the FA Cup against Colchester United.
In August 2006, Gallas departed with new competition arriving in the shape of Khalid Boulahrouz. Ferreira was just as likely to be found at stand-in centre-back as right-back in the early part of 2006/07 but he came back strongly.
In the second half of the campaign he regained the right-back shirt regularly and capped a return to his best form by playing a big part in subduing the celebrated Cristiano Ronaldo in the FA Cup final. Chelsea won the trophy in the first final played at the new Wembley.
Avram Grant selected him in his first side when he took over in September 2007 and the player then shared duties with recently-arrived Juliano Belletti, filling in on the left too when Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge were both out. That was until an injury led to five weeks on the treatment table himself.
In the closing months of the 2007/08 season, he was increasingly preferred to the more attacking nature of Belletti, however Michael Essien was the right-back selected for the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow.
In total there were three starts and nine sub appearances in the 2008/09 season under Luiz Felipe Scolari and then Guus Hiddink, though the season ended three months early due to a cruciate ligament injury.
To return in a little over six months, as Ferreira did when he played 90 minutes against QPR in the Carling Cup in September 2009, showed tremendous commitment.
He continued to figure in the Carling Cup, and even found the net from close range at Blackburn, only his second goal in a Chelsea shirt and the third of his career.
Under Carlo Ancelotti and with Branislav Ivanovic and Jose Bosingwa both injured, Ferreira played a crucially disciplined defensive role in the win at Old Trafford in April 2010 that took the team back to the top of the table, also featuring in the FA Cup semi-final win over Aston Villa and had 10 straight starts in domestic games.
He began 2010/11 in the team and among the 29 appearances he made that season came his 200th for the club.
During 2011/12 Ferreira reminded everybody of his dependability away at Tottenham, stepping in to shackle Gareth Bale, before figuring in our Champions League quarter-final first leg against Benfica in Lisbon, once again putting in a solid performance as the Blues defence kept the Portuguese side at bay.
Three further appearances followed, his final one as a substitute in our final Premier League game of the season against Blackburn, and he was named on the bench in the Champions League final as he picked up a second winner’s medal.
Last season, it was not until December that Ferreira figured, as a substitute in the dead rubber against Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge. His first six appearances came in six different competitions, that Champions League outing followed by sub appearances in the Club World Cup, Capital One Cup and Premier League. His first start came at the end of February in the FA Cup at Middlesbrough, before figuring from the off in Moscow against Rubin Kazan.
Ferreira’s final appearance was as a late substitute against Everton on the final day of the league season, bringing the Europa League trophy onto the field after the final whistle, and thanking the Blues faithful for their support over the previous nine years.
In total Ferreira appeared 217 times in our colours, and will be remembered as a likeable and reliable servant who will remain a much-loved member of the Chelsea family. Everybody at the club would like to thank Paulo for his nine years of service and wish him all the very best for the future.