Host Ricky Sacks was joined by Jamie from the Daily Hotspur and former Spurs player Ricardo Rocha on this week’s Last Word On Spurs.
Ricardo carried with him an uncompromising reputation from his time at former club Benfica that suggested he was no stranger to the physical combat that is not uncommon, particularly in cup football, within these shores. So it was perhaps to be expected that the 28-year-old was pretty much unfazed by the flailing arm that caused his welcome wound.
With injuries hitting Ledley King regularly, Spurs sought to buy an experienced central defender, but when some of their targets were snapped up by other clubs, they turned to Portugal, where Ricardo Rocha had been playing at Champions League level with Benfica.
His career started playing for a local club Famalicano, who spotted him as a youngster, before the bigger side in the area – SC Braga – bought him. His rise was fairly rapid, as he was only there for two years before his reputation as a good man-marker was noted by top side Benfica, who took him to the Stadium of Light.
Ricardo spent four and a half years at Benfica, playing over 150 games for the club including over 30 in European competitions, but the bid of £3.3 million from Spurs, plus the promise of the takings from two friendlies between the two clubs tempted them to part with the man who has represented his country on a number of occasions.
Coming into the Tottenham side, Rocha was required to play straight away and he showed good commitment and effort, while adjusting to the pace of the Premiership. He has a good jump and can shadow players well, but sometimes, he make makes errors, such as the one where he slipped when clearing the ball in the League Cup semi-final against Arsenal and presented them with a goal.
Injuries had struck the Portuguese defender and restricted him having a run in the side, but his patience is important as Spurs suffer a number of injuries in that department of the squad. With a change of manager, Rocha dropped out of the Tottenham defence, but showed true professionalism by not complaining about not getting a game and bringing on the defensive players in the reserves where he played the most games of all the player since 2008-09.
Rocha was released at the end of his contract at the start of June 2009 to find a new club, finding a new place to play at the end of the summer transfer window by signing for Belgian champions Standard Liege. Not settling in Belgium, Rocha was given a free transfer at the end of 2009 and moved back to the Premier League with cash-strapped Portsmouth, who were happy to sign him for free. He dad a nightmare first game, getting sent off in the first half against Sunderland, as he conceded a penalty and his part in the game was ended after just nine minutes. He would go on to be named man of the match in the FA Cup semi-final win over Spurs, but was part of the side that lost 0-1 to Chelsea in the final.
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