Ramires’ journey at Chelsea

Chelsea were immensely successful in the early parts of the last decade and the team had several star players whose contributions cannot be forgotten. Chief among them is Brazilian midfielder Ramires, who the Stamford Bridge faithful affectionately dubbed ‘Rambo’.

Ramires lived up to that nickname too, winning every major trophy on offer during his five-year stint at Chelsea. The versatile Brazilian, who was primarily a box-to-box midfielder, could also play down the right flank and he shone for Benfica during the two years he spent in Portugal before earning a call up to the Portuguese national side.

Following the 2010 World Cup, Ramires secured a switch to Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea. He had to toil to become a mainstay in the starting XI, making just 22 starts in the Premier League in his first season. Even at Chelsea, Ramires was intermittently asked to play as the right winger.

2011-12 was arguably the best season of Ramires’ career. The midfielder scored a total of 12 goals from 47 appearances playing in multiple positions and also showed up when Chelsea needed sparks of inspiration on a regular basis.

Ramires scored the opening goal of the 2011-12 FA Cup final against Liverpool, which the Blues went on to win 2-1. But his most memorable contribution came in the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

Ramires played a crucial role in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph against Barcelona

Chelsea weren’t given much of a chance against Barcelona, who were arguably the strongest side in Europe at the time. But they pulled off a shocking win in the first leg against Barcelona as Ramires set Didier Drogba up to score in extra-time in the first leg.

Even though Chelsea had a 1-0 advantage heading into the second leg, Barcelona were still hot favourites to go through to the finals. It looked justified too when Barcelona went 2-0 up at the Camp Nou thanks to first-half goals from Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta.

To make matters worse for Chelsea, John Terry got sent off in the 37th minute. With a mountain to climb ahead of them, Ramires took the game by the scruff of its neck to bring Chelsea back into the contest.

Rambo started running with the ball from inside his own half before laying it off to Frank Lampard and racing ahead. Lampard shook off a couple of advancing midfielders and released Ramires into space from where the Brazilian produced a spectacular lobbed finish over Victor Valdez to restore parity in the tie.

Fernando Torres rounding Victor Valdez in the dying embers of the game to put the result beyond doubt is usually the memory that comes running into our minds when we speak of the historic Champions League win against Barcelona but it was Ramires’ immaculate finish that set it all up. Ramires won the Goal of the Year award at the end of the season for the strike.

Ramires left Chelsea for Chinese Super Club Jiangsu Suning in 2016. But by then Ramires had won every major trophy to be won in England. He has won one UEFA Champions League title, one Europa League title, one Premier League title, one FA Cup and one English League Cup.

Now 34, Ramires last played for Brazilian outfit Palmeiras before ending his contract by mutual consent towards the end of 2020. Rambo is now in the twilight of his career and the Blues’ fans will always be grateful that he played his best football during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Published 26 Apr 2021, 17:36 IST

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