Like so many other kids, the young Ricardo Carvalho had only one dream: to be a professional footballer. In the case of the Chelsea centre-half, his sole ambition was to be a top defender just like his hero, Fernando Couto, even to the point of growing his hair long in the style of the legendary Portuguese stopper. But Carvalho could hardly have imagined how he would develop into a fine player in his own right, even managing to play alongside Couto himself.
Of course, success does not come without sacrifice and for the young defender, this meant daily two-hour bus journeys to attend training with FC Porto’s youth team. The effort paid off, as Carvalho carved out a niche for himself in the first team in 2000/01, going on to be one of the bedrocks of a trophy-laden spell for the Portuguese giants. Under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, they won two domestic league titles, the UEFA Cup in 2002/03 and the UEFA Champions League in 2003/04.
By then, the defender’s classy displays had earned him a call-up to the national squad, and into the Portuguese squad for UEFA EURO 2004 alongside his boyhood hero, Fernando Couto. After Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men lost to Greece in the opening game of the tournament, Carvalho took Couto’s place in the starting line-up, and helped his team to the final.
From Oporto, the talented centre-back teamed up with his former coach, Jose Mourinho, at Chelsea. Mourinho has since gone, but Carvalho’s elegant style has won him a host of admirers in England, and he has also gone on to represent his country at both the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006™ and UEFA EURO 2008. There is little doubt that he will one of Portugal’s stars in South Africa 2010.