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Player Profile: Ricardo Rocha  

  

Ricardo RochaFull name: Ricardo Sergio Rocha Azevedo

Position: Defender

Date of Birth: 3 October 1978

Birthplace: Santo Tirso, Portugal

 

It is said the some people are late bloomers and such is the case with Ricardo Sergio Rocha Azevedo, or to those in the football world, Ricardo Rocha.

The imposing central defender had a modest start to his career, and upon making the step up to more glamorous clubs Rocha retained his tendency to shy away from the spotlight. The no-nonsense defender is happy just to put in an honest day’s work and always gives everything he has for his team.

Rocha started his professional career at the age of 19 with small Portuguese side FC Familicao in 1998. The central defender featured in all their games that year, before he made his move to the top flight with Sporting Braga.

It was at Braga that Rocha started to hone his skills as one of Portugal’s most promising defenders. The player stayed at the club for three seasons, making 85 appearances and scoring two goals, before being sold to Lisbon giants, Benfica.

Benfica glory

At the Estadio da Luz the defender would win silverware and further enhance his reputation. In the 2003/04 season Rocha helped Benfica win the Portuguese Cup, and the following season he was a key figure in the conquest of Benfica’s first championship in 11 seasons.

In the summer of 2005, after team-mates Tiago and Miguel had both been sold to Chelsea and Valencia in acrimonious circumstances, new Benfica coach Ronald Koeman helped convince the player to stay with the club despite a controversial transfer request. The highlight of the season was Benfica’s run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League after years in the wilderness in Europe.

Ronaldinho praise

It was during Benfica’s tussle with Barcelona that Ricardo Rocha made the world pay attention to him as he stood toe-to-toe with the World’s best player, Ronaldinho. The big centre-back’s man-marking was so good that he earned praise from the Brazilian icon who stated: “My marker had an outstanding game and as a result I couldn’t do what I normally do.” After a goalless draw in Lisbon, Benfica were beaten by the eventual tournament winners in Barcelona.

After making a solid start to the following season, Rocha was somewhat surprisingly sold to Tottenham Hotspur in the January transfer window.

International career

Ricardo Rocha has made six appearances for the full national team. He can count himself unlucky to competing against two of Europe’s finest central defenders in Ricardo Carvalho and Jorge Andrade for a place in the team. However, if Rocha proves a hit in the Premiership, he may well feature more regularly in Luiz Filipe Scolari’s future squads.

by Marco Pereira (13/02/2007)

ClubAppearances*Goals
Famalicao614
Braga442
Benfica1153
Tottenham Hotspur**140
   
 PORTUGAL60

* League appearances only

** Up to May 2009

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