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Riccy speaks

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"I can understand why some criticised the move. I was 32 and I'd been at Chelsea a long time," Carvalho said. "I had a physical problem, which started because I was not given time to recover fully. I was out for longer than is normal for a muscular problem. There was pressure, I wanted to play and I got injured again. It was not properly healed and I had a relapse.

"But I was convinced I'd succeed. I knew I'd play well here. It's a different game and I wanted to prove I was in shape physically and mentally. It would have been easy to stay at Chelsea, where people respected me and moving on meant starting over again. But I needed a change, the challenge — and it was Real Madrid. During the last few years at Chelsea I wasn't so happy; I felt saturated. I needed to try something different, get some impetus. I'd become too comfortable. That's not a good thing. I had to show I was still a good player."

Winning the competition was Chelsea's obsession, too. Perhaps they would have done so if Roman Abramovich had not fallen out with Mourinho: could that have been their gravest mistake? "Well," said Carvalho, incredulously, "the truth is, the closest we got was after he went. It was incredible that we lost. Cristiano [Ronaldo] missed a penalty, Ash[ley Cole] scored. United had to score twice and we had to miss. You think: 'It's ours, this is it.' We were ready to celebrate. And then.

"John Terry missed. Suddenly it was over. But I was so impressed with John. He is a classic English centre-back, so strong, such character. He was angry and crying like all of us – but he didn't hide away in his room. He looked dead but he was there for us. If that had happened to me, I'm not sure I could have done the same. That was incredible."

Talk of Chelsea draws a smile, a reunion appeals. Chelsea-Real Madrid: the dream final? "Definitely." Possible, too. "I talk to the Chelsea players," Carvalho says. "Whenever they say they've had a bad game, I say: 'Nah, you're strong still.' They're the best team in England and I know what it would mean to them to reach the final."



I have to admit, I was a bit annoyed when he came up with all the 'I'd swim to Real if I had it my way' talk before he went. But after reading this, my respect for the man has grown very much. Best of luck at Real, Riccy. (Obviously not against us in the final though ;))

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How come is Real Madrid - Chelsea a dream final for you Riccy? How come you wish to beat your ex team-mates and the club that you played 7 years for and the club which you almost won the CL with, the club that you were so close in winning it so many times. Makes no sense to me.

But I've always liked Carvalho no matter what - a role model of a centre back, brilliant footballer. I wish him the best with Real Madrid, but obviously not in the final if we meet them.

And because Jose knocked us out last year, this time round we must definitely beat him and have our revenge.

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Most defenders peak after 30 though mind.

True, but I think his peak was with us, through the Mourinho years. Not suggesting he's finished, regular starts at Real prove that, but his time with us ran its course.

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True, but I think his peak was with us, through the Mourinho years. Not suggesting he's finished, regular starts at Real prove that, but his time with us ran its course.

Agreed. 6 years is a long time and I can understand him when he says he wanted a new challenge. I'm amazed by the quality the guy still has. Easily one of the top 3 European defenders of the decade.

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