Rocha: From Pompey to playing for Portugal
A GOALLESS draw with Stevenage at Fratton Park.
That League One encounter in April 2013 represented Ricardo Rocha’s last Pompey match – and the final game of his playing career.
Following the struggle to accept retirement and the desire to play catch-up with family life, the 39-year-old is again looking towards his career.
And Rocha is eager to remain in football – as a director of football.
He said: ‘At the start it was very difficult because you are never ready to retire, for more than a year I couldn’t even watch football on the TV.
‘I stayed away and even in Portugal people thought I was still in England because I wasn’t in the public eye.
‘I dedicated my time to my family, to my kids, because being a footballer takes a lot of your time.
‘I’m now slowly getting more involved and sometimes invited to do TV programmes in Portugal, while going to watch a lot of games.
‘I’m studying at the moment too.
‘I don’t want to be a manager or a coach, I’m studying to be a director of football or a technical director, so I’m getting the knowledge to learn a little bit more and am looking to do something.
‘The Portuguese Football League run a special course, we call it Professional Formations, taken by people who work in football, they teach us what we need to do.
‘It’s being the bridge between the board with the team and manager.
‘It’s a different part of football which, in my opinion, needs more former players.
‘We know everything that happens on the pitch, have all the knowledge about being a professional footballer, and can take that and put it into the club structure.’
Rocha was handed a humbling homecoming on his return to Fratton Park last weekend.
Since leaving England to move back to Portugal in 2014, it was the first time back at his former club.
Despite his retirement, he has maintained his fitness and represents Portugal in veteran football tournaments.
Rocha added: ‘I still train every day and just rest at the weekends.
‘I also play some games with the national veterans team against sides from a few countries.
‘I’m going to Russia soon for three days and it’s good for the former players to be together and in the dressing room again.
‘It’s just a few days, but it’s always nice to play football again.’