Cris of life

CARV: WE’RE NOT RON-HIT WON­DERS

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Steven Bea­com

FOR­MER Chelsea and Real Madrid star Ri­cardo Car­valho be­lieves Por­tu­gal’s team spirit com­bined with the class of Cris­tiano Ron­aldo could help his coun­try go far in the World Cup.

Por­tu­gal won the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships two years ago beat­ing hosts France in the fi­nal but few pun­dits have backed them to make a big im­pres­sion in Rus­sia.

They start their bid for glory on Friday night with a mouth-wa­ter­ing Group B clash against Spain in Sochi be­fore tak­ing on Morocco and Iran.

Car­valho, at 38, was the old­est out­field player at Euro 2016 and is heart­ened by the fact that their suc­cess­ful man­ager Fer­nando San­tos from that cam­paign is still in charge of the na­tional team en­ter­ing the World Cup.

“We have a good team and the same coach which I feel is very im­por­tant,” said Car­valho.

“The squad is al­ways to­gether and the play­ers work well in tour­na­ments. That was a big rea­son why Por­tu­gal did so well at the Euros.

“At a World Cup there are many very good sides but for Por­tu­gal the aim will be to get good re­sults early on, gain con­fi­dence in the tour­na­ment and have that bit of luck.

“It is a good squad that we are tak­ing to Rus­sia and in Cris­tiano Ron­aldo of course we have a great player so we have a chance to go far. I hope that proves to be the case.”

Car­valho, who won league ti­tles with Chelsea and Real Madrid plus a Cham­pi­ons League with Porto, has been in Belfast this week with his ex-Por­tu­gal team-mate and close friend Tiago Mendes tak­ing the Ir­ish FA’s UEFA B Li­cence coach­ing course.

He has watched with in­ter­est his old Chelsea pal Frank Lam­pard’s move into man­age­ment at Derby County.

Car­valho is con­vinced that Lam­pard has the drive to be a suc­cess in the dugout and feels that an­other Stam­ford Bridge leg­end John Terry will also fol­low that path.

“I hope Frank does very well. I left Chelsea in 2010 so I played six years with him and it was a plea­sure to be be­side him,” said Car­valho.

“He was a top guy and even then he was a leader. It will be im­por­tant for him to start well and I’m sure he is ready for the chal­lenge.

“He is the type of per­son that would be­lieve he can do well. With Frank I knew he would carry on to be a coach and I feel the same way about John Terry, who was an­other great player for Chelsea.”

Car­valho, 40, points out though that one thing he has learnt in Belfast is that the tran­si­tion from player to coach is not an easy one.

“Your ex­pe­ri­ences as a player will help in man­age­ment be­cause you un­der­stand the game.

“One thing is to un­der­stand the game and an­other thing is to pass it on to the play­ers. That is the chal­lenge.

“You know what you feel and what you see but you have to ex­plain it well to the play­ers.

“It is com­pletely dif­fer­ent. As a player when you go to a ses­sion you just have to take care of your­self and do it prop­erly and be fo­cused on what the coach is ask­ing you to do.

“Now you have to look at it an­other way, you have to pre­pare the ses­sion and make sure ev­ery­thing is right for the play­ers.

“You want to push them to their limit to do the best they can ev­ery day.”

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