Signed in 2004 for just over £13m, Paulo Ferreira came to Chelsea with high expectations.

Already a regular feature in the Portugal back-four, as well as being a Champions League winner with Porto, Ferreira was tipped to be Chelsea's next best defender.

Entering into a team already full of stars following Chelsea's takeover under owner Roman Abramovich, life was never going to be easy for the right-back - but he quickly adapted and made a name for himself at the Bridge, making 29 league appearances in his first season, 42 in all competitions, and described by Jose Mourinho as a constant "seven out of ten performer".

Ferreira may well be leaving Chelsea when the 2012/13 season draws to a close, but as the Portuguese defender enters the twilight of his career, even the most die-hard Chelsea hater can't criticise Ferreira's attitude. As loyal as they make them, Ferreira is one of Chelsea's longest-serving players, and deserves far more recognition than he receives.

This season, Ferreira has made only six appearances in all competitions - and when we say "in all competitions", we really mean it.

Despite his tally for the season, Ferreira has played in the Premier League, the Champions League, the League Cup, the FA Cup, the Club World Cup and the Europa League.

Being included in the squads for these tournaments on every possible occasion shows Ferreira still has a large role to play off the pitch - even if his contributions on the pitch are rare. His Chelsea team-mate Florent Malouda has not made any of Chelsea's squads this season, so Ferreira should count his constant inclusion as an achievement, especially for a man aged 34.

His commitment on the training ground and his vast experience must be welcome traits to some of Chelsea's up-and-coming stars, most notably perhaps young defender Nathan Ake, who has shared the bench with the Portugal man many times this season.

Many football fans may be forgiven for forgetting that Ferreira still plays for the Blues; the only people who will know about Ferreira's inclusion are those lucky enough to see his face when the benches are revealed before the match starts.

But never let it be said that Paulo isn't a hard worker.

Most players would have handed in a transfer request by now in the search for regular first-team football, but he's always stuck at it. And there was a chance that he would have seen far more first-team football this season had it not have been for a number of world-class performances from Branislav Ivanovic and the signing of young full-back Cesar Azpilicueta.

If we are to wave goodbye to "Mr. Loyalty" in the summer, we should never look back at him in a negative light. Some fans see Ferreira as a joke at Chelsea, nothing more than a good old traditional bench-warmer and a man who went past his prime way before this season even began.

But the quiet, understated man off the pitch is often underrated when he plays, and his loyalty should never be forgotten. If more players were as professional as Ferreira, football wouldn't claim the headlines for its controversies as often as it does - and the "beautiful game" would be made just that little bit better.


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