Ricardo Carvalho moved from Chelsea to Real Madrid in 2010, after six years in London where he won three Premier League titles. The Portuguese then spent three seasons in Madrid before swapping Spain for the province of Monaco in 2013.
Reflecting on his time in both London and Madrid, the centre-back discusses how he actually preferred the lifestyle in England when compared to Spain. He suggests how the London lifestyle is more suited to a footballer, who needs more rest and earlier times to eat as a result.
Despite growing up in Portugal, Carvalho claims that the lifestyle switch to London was easier than the one to Madrid.
“Believe it or not, it was harder adapting to the Madrid lifestyle in 2010,” Carvalho stated. “Spanish people may be similar to Portuguese, but there was one thing I missed a lot about London – having meals earlier.
“In Spain, we often had lunch out and dinners at home because of our kids. The problem was that if you arrived at a restaurant in Madrid at 1.30pm, you’d have to wait until 2pm to get in! It was too late for me. [Laughs]
“Sometimes I’d meet Tiago, who played for Atletico and is one of my best mates in football, for lunch at a place near their training ground. One day, the owner spoke to him in private and said, “Tiago, please can you stop Ricardo arriving so early.” By the time people were having dinner in Spain, my kids were already asleep!”
When asked about Chelsea’s dressing room in Cobham, Carvalho explained how the difference in mindset actually suited him better, because it allowed him to recover and relax the way he wanted to.
“That was a big difference. At Chelsea, you’d train, work, rest, take care of your life and spend time with your family. The adaptation was easier for me, because this was how I liked to be.
“In fact, I actually had to adapt at Porto. They’d have huge lunches with lots of people which went on for hours. I’d rather spend time with my family. Jorge Costa, Vitor Baia and everyone at Porto loved them, though. At Chelsea we didn’t quite have that, but still had a brilliant dressing room and achieved success on the pitch.”
While Carvalho’s Chelsea were unable to secure Champions League glory in 2008 when they reached the final quite like Porto did when Carvalho played for the club in 2004, the defender still achieved plenty after making the switch to London.
A large part of that success is attributed to the formidable partnership Carvalho formed with Chelsea stalwart and captain John Terry. The pair (along with the rest of the defence and goalkeeper) managed to concede just fifteen goals in the 2004-05 season during their 38-game campaign. A large part of that defensive solidity came from Carvalho playing alongside Terry, who has nothing but admiration for the Chelsea legend.
“There are some things you simply can’t explain. Our connection was something else – if he didn’t clear a ball, he knew that I’d cover him and vice-versa. We complemented each other on the field.
“It’s a real privilege in football to be able to play next to a guy you fully trust, so I have to be really thankful for that. We clicked straight away – he went above and beyond to help me adapt to the English game. John was a tremendous defender, a true leader and someone whose opinion I valued a lot.”
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