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Jose Bosingwa story


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Jose Bosingwa overcomes the odds to join Scolari revolution at Chelsea

Jose Bosingwa's story is a remarkable one, encompassing the trauma of leaving his parents back home in the Democratic Republic of Congo to live with his brother in Portugal for the sake of a better education aged only nine.

A few years down the line he left his family again, this time to join Boavista's academy before Jose Mourinho took him to FC Porto, where the player was involved in a near-fatal road accident, resulting in a friend losing his foot.

All these events have gone towards forming the character of a man flourishing these days in a Chelsea shirt. Humble, determined and clearly super-fit, the 26-year-old right-back has been superb as part of Luiz Felipe Scolari's exciting new era.

Working that right flank with intelligence and poise, Bosingwa's attacking prowess has proved a key strand in the added flair and freedom infusing Stamford Bridge. It must help, of course, to have Scolari as manager, the two having already worked together with Portugal. The presence of compatriots Deco, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira can't do any harm either.

Yet away from the club, in trying to settle in a strange land, another close sibling shows Bosingwa the way.

"When I came to England one of my brothers was already living here," he explains through an interpreter. "Now we live together. He gives me advice, he goes to all the games and afterwards we talk about what went right and wrong. He is a very important person in my life."

As is Antonio, who, as the eldest of eight brothers and sisters, was earning a modest living as a lower league footballer in Portugal when entrusted with caring for Jose. Another brother and cousin made up the house party.

"It was fun," Bosingwa concedes with a smile. "But being the youngest in the family I missed my parents so much. That's why they decided to move to Portugal when I was 12."

A couple of years later the teenager was kicking a ball around as usual with his mates on the street when a man asked if he would be prepared to join a club up the road. "I had to ask my parents because the club was 50km away from my village." Luckily, his parents complied.

"We trained twice a week and the guy got a car to pick up all the players and bring them to training. I lived the furthest away. The car would pick us up after school and sometimes we wouldn't get home until 11 or 12 at night.

"Some of the boys didn't always go because it was winter, it was cold and rainy and after a hard day at school they couldn't be bothered. I was the only one who never missed one training session."

Such dedication paid off, the move to Boavista preceding a successful five-year spell at Porto, where he was originally bought as a holding midfielder.

"That was my position", he says. "Mourinho bought me to replace Costinha. Paulo Ferreira was the established right-back and he was playing well.

"Several coaches tried me at right-back, but the coach who decided I should play there, who said I was going to be the best right-back around, was Jose Couceiro, now coach of Lithuania."

By that time, Bosingwa had endured a terrible ordeal. In May 2005, he was driving his jeep at speed with four other footballers on board when it skidded off the motorway in wet conditions and rolled down an embankment, bursting into flames.

Fortunately, everyone escaped alive, but one of the passengers, Sandro Lui­s had his left foot amputated. Porto suspended Bosingwa.

When the subject turns to that day, Bosingwa's expression suddenly darkens. "That is a subject I would rather not talk about", he says sadly. "It hit me very hard. It changed my outlook on life." How could it not?

Maybe some guilt still lurks within. Maybe the defender privately dedicates his achievements since to the friend whose career was cut short.

Whatever the truth, Bosingwa has developed into a top-class international, his lean and hungry look a feature for club and country, as it will be tomorrow when Chelsea host Liverpool.

"I didn't know I would adapt so quickly but I knew the football in England is competitive, fast and that's the type of football I like. It suits me and that's why I have settled in quickly.

"I feel a big part of things at Chelsea. I am playing quite a lot so feel I am contributing to the success that is coming. We have a good group of players. They are very well known so I am flattered to be part of it."

He shouldn't be. Though it's been quite a journey, his talent fully deserves the stage.

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