Sport Lisboa e Benfica, just like their rivals Porto has been one of the leading hunting grounds for the ‘bigger’ clubs since ages. And quite recently we were lucky enough to land one of the true gems of the Portuguese League, who went by the name ‘Ramires Santos.’ Ramires had joined up with Benfica from Cruzeiro, where already he was rated highly, and was given the title ‘Blue Kenyan’ (because of Cruzeiro’s blue kit), and quickly established himself as one of the major players of the Benfica side. Within a season, a major part of Europe turned their attention towards this ‘rather thin’ workhorse who was responsible of being the engine of his side. And on the 4th of August, 2010, Ramires donned the famous blue colors again, this time it was the blue of Chelsea. The transfer wasn’t quite the ‘marquee’ signing the fans were looking forward to, and was met with a lot of confusion because of the 22m fee paid for him to Benfica SL, and over that, the number 7 jersey. The number 7 jersey is traditionally viewed as the best player’s jersey in almost every team, in Chelsea however, it was quite a while since our last number 7 shone on the field. And offering this jersey to someone who wasn’t really ‘magical’ was not met well with many people all around the globe.
Even though he was the centre of attraction to many scouts, fans who didn’t really follow the Portuguese League had little to no idea as to what this player brought into the team. However, the comparisons made to our very own ‘Michael Essien’ soon caught up and that became a reason to look forward to his performances. Ramires made his debut on the 28th August, 2010, replacing Michael Essien against Stoke City with just 6 minutes plus injury time to cover. His full debut was against West Ham at Upton Park, on the 11th September, and what we saw we weren’t really convinced. The next few performances didn’t really help our judgment of his quality either. He was either caught off position, or made loose passes or his touches betrayed him. What he did was run all over the park, but without another good reason to admire, it wasn’t really enough to justify the 22m we paid for him. His thin frame was easily overpowered in the starting of the season and he looked lost on the field, playing against strangers, with strangers. Not really the most convincing start to his Chelsea career.
But that didn’t last too long, as he answered his critics within months by showing why exactly he is compared to the formidable Michael Essien. Slowly but gradually he started improvising himself, and his honest style of playing and a really timid nature must have helped him to get in sync with the rest of the team and within no time he showed the fans why Chelsea paid the hefty amount for him. He could run the entire pitch, for 90 minutes without fatigue, and his thin frame? Well, that couldn’t be bullied off the ball anymore. He adapted so well to the Premier League that within no time it was him who was bullying people off the ball. While he worked from the spine, it was his team mates who won all the plaudits as they enjoyed the fruits of Ramires’ hardwork. Offense, Defense, Rami could do both, and both to impressive levels. His Brazilian Sprint can often be seen charging back and forth all through the pitch.
“He is agile, fast and can be used either as an attacking midfielder or defender. The more versatile the player is, the better he is for me. He is a modern player who can help change the team’s setup during a match if needed.” – Scolari
It soon came to the time where Ramires was one of the first names on the team sheet, and though he wasn’t expected to be scoring goals, he has been impressive on that aspect too. Noticeably, the most important goal of his career has to be the goal that changed the tide against Barcelona, and in the words of the commentator, even the likes of ‘Leo Messi’ and ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ wouldn’t had produced that sort of goal out of almost nowhere, in a match where he had realized that he wasn’t going to feature in the finals due to suspension. That just meant he put in the extra efforts that would had been reserved for the finale in the semi-final itself. The defensive approach that Chelsea had taken against Barcelona saw Ramires having to play to his sweat to make sure that his team mates got the chance to make it to the finals.
Where he lacked the ‘magic’ other players had in the team, he made it up with some old fashioned hard work. He is not a master of any trade yet, but the Jack of almost too many. Even though the proverb goes on to say that it shouldn’t be this way, Ramires is one exemption to it. If it was not for his multiple qualities, I am confident the team wouldn’t run as smoothly as they are expected to. So many of his team mates takes up the spot light from him because they play eye catching, but would they have had the chance to be so openly eye catching if it weren’t for this lad’s work ethic? I highly doubt so!
If Chelsea were to be a Ferrari, Ramires would be its engine. The world looks at the Ferrari and praises its performance and beauty, while the engine quietly works towards making the Ferrari stand out among all other cars with pure hard labor.
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