Rocha blessed to feel love from Fratton faithful

Ricardo Rocha helps Spurs at bay at Wembley in 2010
Ricardo Rocha helps Spurs at bay at Wembley in 2010
Pompey and Fulham drew 3-3. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss disappointed not to get victory

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Ricardo Rocha believes he produced his very best form at Pompey.

And after being released from the club, the 33-year-old is keen to remain in England as he bids to prove he has a footballing future.

Blues boss Michael Appleton brought the defender’s two-and-a-half-year spell at Fratton Park to an end last week.

With Rocha a popular figure among the fans, it is a decision which has drawn sympathy for the player.

He counts a Portuguese title with Benfica among his successes but now the hunt is on for another club – preferably in England.

Rocha and his family have lived in Fareham since arriving at Fratton Park in February 2010.

His two children attend Miltoncross School and have settled into the area.

The ex-Spurs man still believes there is plenty of football left in him.

And as he embarks on the next chapter of his career, Rocha admits he would relish remaining in the country which has become his home.

He said: ‘I think Portsmouth is one of the places where I have played the best football of my career.

‘When you get past the age of 30, people look at you differently so I was working hard and playing hard just to prove to everyone that if you are fit and playing regularly, age does not matter.

‘That was one of the factors for me.

‘I was there to do my best to prove what I was worth and I played a lot this year.

‘I am not at Portsmouth now but want to keep playing. I feel fantastic psychologically and physically, I showed that in the amount of games I played.

‘At Tottenham, I didn’t have the chance to play so much so could not prove what I was worth and had a bad injury as well.

‘Here, though, I feel I have done well and I feel so blessed the fans respected that.

‘I didn’t know I was so popular. I was just doing my job and going on to the pitch and doing my best for the club and the team.

‘That was always my aim, to give 100 per cent for the club, and I would like to say thank you to the fans for their support.

‘Let’s see what the future holds. I have been in England now for almost five years, firstly with Spurs, and since I came to Portsmouth it has been so good to live here.

‘My two children go to Miltoncross School and like it so much. They speak more English than Portuguese.

‘If I have the chance to stay in England I would like to. Definitely.

‘I am going on holiday to Portugal very soon and a friend of mine is trying to find a club for me. Hopefully I can get somewhere.’

Rocha made 76 appearances for Pompey, a spell which included being awarded man of the match against Spurs in the 2010 FA Cup semi-final.

There was also the matter of two red cards in his first three games for the club – and four overall.

While more recently, a ball kicked into the Southampton crowd at St Mary’s ensured a touch of notoriety among south-coast football supporters.

For him, however, the result of the match was what really stood out from that April encounter.

Rocha added: ‘I just kicked the ball away because I thought I was closer to the boards than I actually was.

‘It is unfortunate people were hit. But that’s football.

‘That Southampton game was unbelievable, especially us scoring in the last minute.

‘I just remember that when Norris scored, the whole stadium fell quiet and then you could only hear the Pompey fans singing, shouting and cheering while the ground was vibrating.

‘What an amazing feel that was and one I shall never forget – just like the fans who have always backed me.

‘I am now not at Portsmouth but I have made a pledge to the (Supporters) Trust.

‘I believe it is a really good idea for the fans to take charge of the club. That would be amazing. They have tried everything they can and we can only support them.

‘I wish them the very best of luck and hope they succeed.

‘The fans running their club would be tremendous.’