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Ricardo Carvalho thanked FC Porto for the role they played in his development on and off the field as he prepared to face his old side with Chelsea FC in their opening UEFA Champions League Group D game.
The 31-year-old spent six years with the Portuguese titleholders between 1998 and 2004, winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League in successive seasons under the tutelage of future Blues manager José Mourinho. Carvalho was quick to follow his mentor to Stamford Bridge after Porto's triumph in Gelsenkirchen and has since been drawn against his previous employers twice in Europe's premier club competition, most recently in the 2006/07 first knockout round when the Londoners won 3-2 en route to the semi-finals.
"It's always very special to play against Porto because I spent some wonderful years there and I really grew as a man and a player," said the centre-back, who missed the 2-1 victory at Stoke City FC on Saturday which lifted Carlo Ancelotti's side to the top of the Premier League. "It's very rewarding for them to be doing so well in the Champions League and to always be at the top of the Portuguese League. I am very pleased for them and I will always support them."
One of five Portuguese players in the Blues' dressing room, Carvalho has been quick to pass on knowledge of his fellow countrymen to the rest of the Chelsea squad. "We have spoken about Porto's players and the ones we have talked most about are the forwards because they're the ones who are scoring goals," he said, alluding to Colombian striker Falcao, a scorer in all of Porto's four league games this season.
During his time with Chelsea, Carvalho has yet to experience the emotion he felt on 26 May 2004 when Porto defeated AS Monaco FC for their second European crown. Chelsea have become the nearly men of Europe's élite competition in recent times, losing the 2008 final on penalties to Manchester United FC as well as reaching the last four on four occasions in the last six seasons, a statistic Carvalho is eager to rewrite.
"To win the Champions League with Chelsea would be great but you need a bit of luck for that," he added. "It hurts a lot [that the squad have not won the European Cup]. We've reached a final once and we missed that great opportunity even if we were a little bit unlucky. It's more important to get there, though. The more times you get there, the more chances you have to win it."
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