CARVALHO: With a heavy heart we bid farewell & thank you!

Late yesterday confirmed the news that the majority of Chelsea fans had come to expect, Ricardo Carvalho is leaving the clu...

Football - Chelsea Press Conference - Stamford Bridge, London, England - 13/4/09..Chelsea's Ricardo Carvalho Photo via Newscom

Late yesterday confirmed the news that the majority of Chelsea fans had come to expect, Ricardo Carvalho is leaving the club. The start of the club statement on the website said:
"Chelsea Football Club can confirm it has agreed terms with Real Madrid for the transfer of Ricardo Carvalho. The transfer is subject to a medical and the player agreeing personal terms.

Of course this had been the second summer running where his future was up for discussion as 12 months ago he publically stated that he wanted to go. That move never came to fruition and Carvalho forced his way into the starting eleven under Carlo Ancelotti. As the season progressed once more it was Alex who was selected to play next to JT more often than not and Riccy had to settle for a place on the bench.

PITTSBURGH - JULY 28: Ricardo Carvalho (L) of Chelsea stretches with former Porto teammate Paulo Ferreira during team training after Carvalho signed a three-year contract with the club and flying to the USA to join the team on the Champions World Series tour before tomorrows match against Roma July 28, 2004 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)

It was very different back in the summer of 2004/5. Carvalho had just featured in the Porto side that had won the Champions League under Jose Mourinho's stewardship and when Mourinho left for Chelsea, Carvalho followed in a deal worth just under £20m.

Riccy missed the beginning of the season due to a toe injury but two months into the season he made his first appearance. The partnership with JT clicked almost instantly and became one of the best in the Premier League. Carvalho and JT in front of Petr Cech became the bedrock of our success. We finished the season League Champions for the first time in 50 years and added to that the Carling Cup. Chelsea with Carvalho next to JT had conceeded just 15 goals.

LANDOVER - JULY 28: Ricardo Carvalho #6 of Chelsea controls the ball against DC United during their World Series of Football match on July 28, 2005 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.Chelsea defeated DC United 2-1.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Riccy hadn't begun the 2005/6 season well after he had spoken out about Jose's selection policy and was then fined by the club a reported £85,000. Added to that fine Mourinho was quoted at the time saying:
"Carvalho seems to have problems understanding things, maybe he should have an IQ test".
He was to be left out of our 1-0 win over Arsenal. He managed to regain favour from Mourinho and made a return to the side in September and became a regular once more next to JT. He received the first red card of his Chelsea career in a 1-1 draw with Charlton but put this behind him as once more Carvalho and JT formed a partnership that led us to back to back titles. Carvalho sealed the title with the third goal at the Bridge as we beat United 3-0.

Chelsea's Ricardo Carvalho Photo via Newscom

The 2006/7 season Carvalho and Chelsea had lost their grip on the title as we lost out to Manchester United. Carvalho injured the medial ligaments in his right leg and as a result missed the 2nd leg of the Champions leg semi final with Liverpool and the FA Cup final against United.

Ricardo Carvalho confronts Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo Chelsea 2008/09 Manchester United V Chelsea 11/01/09 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International

The 2007/8 season was turbulent for Chelsea and for Carvalho as an under performing Chelsea side were hit with the news that Jose Mourinho had left the club shortly into the new season. Avram Grant came in and Carvalho maintained his form. He played all 120 minutes of the Champions League final against United in Moscow and was voted Players Player of the Year.

Ricardo Carvalho Celebrates Scoring 1st Goal Chelsea 2008/09 Manchester City V Chelsea 13/09/08 The Barclays Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International

The 2008/9 season again had seen Roman Abramovich ring the changes. Grant was ousted from his job and Scolari came in. Chelsea started well enough with Carvalho once more a mainstay next to JT but he then suffered an injury. Scolari was sacked and Guus Hiddink came to the club, Carvalho had lost his place in the side to Alex and struggled to get back into favour. He had only made 18 appearances in all competitions that season.

In 2009/10 the club had a new manager in Carlo Ancelotti, Carvalho's fifth in his time at the club. Carvalho had since said that he had wanted to leave the club to link up once more with Mourinho at Inter Milan but the move never happened. Carvalho had said that the first four season's at the club were wonderful but the season before had been difficult.

Wembley Stadium Community Shield Manchester United v Chelsea 09/08/09 Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea) celebrates goal in front 122 Manchester United fans Photo Roger Parker Fotosports International

However, Carvalho had re-estabished himself in favour at the club and started well for Ancelotti with a goal in the Community Sheild against United. Carvalho had started the season next to JT at the back in a partnership that had blossomed in the beginning but at times had begun to show weaknesses. Carvalho made his 200th appearance for Chelsea in December.

In March in the 5-0 win away to Portsmouth, a game that re-ignited our season and push to the title, Carvalho suffered an injury to his ankle ligaments and this was to be his last ever league appearance in a Chelsea shirt. The injury forced him to miss the remainder of the season as we won the double for the first time in our history.

May 28, 2010 - Covilha, Portugal - epa02176984 Portugal's national soccer team player Ricardo Carvalho speaks to the media during a press conference at Covilha Sports Complex in Covilha, Centre of Portugal, 28 May 2010, in view of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

This summer Carvalho had previously expressed his wish to join Madrid and link up once more for a third time with Jose Mourinho. Carvalho featured in this past summers World Cup for Portugal where some could argue like alot of sides had been disappointing.

For me Ricardo Carvalho on his day and when he was at his best was quite simply the best centre back in the world without question. His vision and reading of the game unfolding in front of him was second to none. Always one for a tackle very rarely did we see anyone get the better of him and if they did it would only be once!. I have lost count how many times he nipped in front of someone to intercept the ball and start a Chelsea attack in an instant. Often Carvalho would belt up the pitch looking to join our attack and give all of us a heart attack as we all prayed that he would see sense and return to the back four to provide cover.

Carvalho carried Chelsea at times and the partnership he formed with JT will always be remembered for those title winning seasons back in 2004/5 & 2005/6 where the opposition struggled to score goals.

However, its with a heavy heart that we have to recognise that the last two season's Riccy simply for one reason or another hasn't been at the races and has found Alex to be selected in front of him. There is no question Alex's form deserved selection and Carvalho could have little complaint.

Ricardo Carvalho came to Chelsea, conquered the Premier League three times, the FA Cup three times and the League Cup twice in the six season's he has been with the club. He has made in total 210 appearances and scored 11 goals.

Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho congratulates Ricardo Carvalho at the end of the match Photo via Newscom

So Carvalho moves to Madrid where you can argue the game is slower out there which these days will suit Carvalho down to the ground. Isn't it funny that Madrid have been looking for as many seasons as I can remember for a decent centre half to sure up their leaky defence. They've just signed that man and I am sure Carvalho will prove to everyone (at the pace of the game out there) that he can be a star for them just as he was for us when he first came to the club and for the following four seasons.

So its a massive thank you from all of us for everything you have done for Chelsea, for playing your part in our history and I am sure you will be remembered as one of the greatest defenders we have ever seen. We wish you good luck for the future in Madrid. You will never be forgotten.




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