Ramires had every reason to fall in love with the FA Cup last season.
His first involvement in the competition the previous year had been short-lived by recent Chelsea standards, as we exited at the fourth-round stage after a penalty shoot-out against Everton.
There was no stopping us in 2012 however and Ramires was our joint FA Cup topscorer with four goals on the way to lifting the trophy at Wembley.
With the defence of the silverware beginning today, the 25-year-old reflects on one of his most memorable competition campaigns so far, beginning with that 2-1 final win over Liverpool which is a game hard to equal in his career to date.
Though suspension kept him out of the Champions League final in Munich a couple of weeks later, Ramires was in the starting line-up at Wembley, running away with Juan Mata’s pass and firing the Blues into the lead with a near-post finish after only 10 minutes.
‘It was really special because it was a final against a big club at Wembley,’ Ramires says.
‘I try to shoot in the right place and I did that time because the goalkeeper went to the wrong side. He never expected me to shoot on that side of the goal.’
Ramires also scored at Wembley in the 5-1 semi-final rout of Tottenham, his flick over Carlo Cudicini making it 3-1 to bring some breathing space. His other two FA Cup goals came on third-round weekend when, like this season, we began against a south coast side, that time Portsmouth at home who were beaten 4-0.
One of the midfielder’s goals that day hinted at what was to come so famously later in the season at Barcelona. He raced clear and floated the ball over the Pompey keeper.
‘It was a beautiful goal but it is not like I look for beautiful goals, the only thing I want is to score goals,’ says the twice winner of Chelsea goal of the season.
‘But it was a special competition last season.We are trying to do well in all the competitions with this one but it is special when you win. Now every team that plays against us in the FA Cup, they want to beat us because we are the champions of that competition.’
In order to prevent Southampton from doing just that at St Mary’s this afternoon, more of the same from last season is very much on order with the athletic Brazilian.