Rocha: Pompey always in my heart

Ricardo Rocha found out about his Pompey exit after reading The News
Ricardo Rocha found out about his Pompey exit after reading The News
Former Pompey winger Ryan Williams      Picture: Chris Etchells

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Ricardo Rocha faced up to his disappointing Fratton exit and insisted: Pompey will forever be in my heart.

The fans’ favourite discovered he was leaving the club after reading The News on Monday, when we revealed the 33-year-old had been released by the Blues.

That was along with Jamie Ashdown and Benjani, as boss Michael Appleton attempts to overhaul his squad for League One.

In addition, Ashdown’s wife, Zoe, insisted on Twitter that her husband also learned of his departure from this paper.

For Rocha, though, the decision was not entirely unexpected and brings to an end a two-and-a-half year stay which saw him become a popular figure at Fratton Park.

The cultured defender made 76 appearances amid some memorable highs and woeful lows since joining on a free transfer in February 2010.

He was man of the match as Avram Grant’s side defeated Spurs at Wembley to reach the 2010 FA Cup final – but also endured administration and two relegations.

Rocha, though, is adamant it has been a ‘pleasure’ to represent Pompey.

And for the ex-Portugal international, the club will always remain close to him.

He said: ‘It has been an amazing experience here.

‘I have been through a lot with the club, such as the second time in administration but there was the FA Cup final and the FA Cup semi-final. So many good memories.

‘There have been bad times, but those bad days don’t kill you, they make you stronger.

‘And the fans, well, they have been fantastic to me ever since I got here and I would really like to thank them for making me feel so welcome.

‘It was always a pleasure – in fact, a big pleasure – to play at Fratton Park with them on my side giving the team their support.

‘I thought I might not get a new contract but I also thought I deserved a phone call instead of reading it in the paper.

‘You expect people to say something to me.

‘But that’s football. People have to do their job and it can be difficult.

‘The most important thing for the club is to keep working and staying alive for the fans – this club is all about the fans.

‘I am a Pompey supporter and always will be. They will stay in my heart forever.’

Rocha made 35 appearances this term and once again impressed in the centre of the Pompey defence.

His performances earned him the Northern Blues supporters’ club player of the season award.

However, with Appleton eager for a fresh look to his squad next season, the defender had to make way.

Yet Rocha has nothing but praise for his ex-manager.

He added: ‘Michael has been unbelievable.

‘Unfortunately for him, once he got into the club the problems started with administration and points deduction.

‘But he has the ability to take them back to the Championship and Premier League.’