By Matthew Spiro
Brazilian defender Demetrius Ferreira revealed that signing a three-year contract with Olympique de Marseille last week has given him the ideal boost ahead of tonight's UEFA Cup final against Valencia CF.
Ferreira became coach José Anigo's first signing when he arrived on loan from SC Bastia in January and has been a major factor in the club's resurgence this season. The 30-year-old wing-back, whose quality passing and crossing from the right flank has given Marseille an extra dimension going forward, was rewarded for his consistent performances with the offer of a permanent deal on Friday.
"This is what I had been aiming for ever since I arrived at Marseille," a delighted Ferreira told uefa.com. "I knew that at my age I wouldn't get many more opportunities to join a big club, so I was determined not to let this one go." The diminutive defender also appreciated the timing of the offer, saying: "It has given me the perfect lift ahead of the final. I am now calm in my mind and can focus entirely on Valencia."
Born in Sao Paolo, Ferreira played for Brazilian second division side Guarani before moving to France to join AS Nancy-Lorraine in 1998. Two years in Alsace were followed by a three-and-a-half year spell at Bastia during which time he earned a reputation as one of the best right-sided players in Ligue 1.
Nevertheless, he revealed that he did not feel completely fulfilled in Corsica, saying: "When I played well for Bastia I would get some recognition in the press but at Marseille it is completely different. The exposure is ten times greater - and so is the pressure!
"If you have a good game everyone will compliment you, but likewise if you have a bad game you soon know about it. I see pressure as a positive thing, though. The experience that I've already gained by playing teams like Liverpool [FC], [FC] Internazionale and Newcastle [United FC] has helped me improve my game."
An ever-present in Marseille's UEFA Cup campaign, Ferreira knows the pressure will be greater still in Gothenburg as Marseille aim to clinch their first European trophy in eleven years. "The pressure has been building for a while now," he said. "When you see the number of journalists who have been coming to the training ground every day, that's when it hits home. Ever since we beat Newcastle I have been thinking about the final and I know it's the same for a lot of the lads."
Marseille's preoccupation with the UEFA Cup is seen by many as the main reason why their league form has dipped in recent weeks, and Ferreira agrees, saying: "We have made the UEFA Cup a priority, but I don't think there's anything strange about that. We've got a massive game coming up and it might be the only chance we get to play a European final."
'Match of our lives'
He does not, however, believe that the recent defeats will present a mental problem on Wednesday night. "For a start we will have our best side out and that hasn't been the case in the league matches," Ferreira argued. "You also have to realise that we'll be playing in the biggest match of our lives. We'll go out there and give absolutely everything we've got because the most important thing is not to have any regrets afterwards.
Nobody will care about our league form if we return to Marseille with the UEFA Cup."
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