Rocha: Why Pompey will always be special to me
Ricardo Rocha reflected on an emotional homecoming and insisted: Pompey will always be special to me.
On Saturday, the retired central defender returned to Fratton Park for the first time since his May 2013 departure.
He made 97 appearances for the Blues, featuring in the 2010 FA Cup final, three divisions and also the memorable 2-2 derby draw at St Mary’s.
Invited as the club’s guest for the 1-0 defeat to Shrewsbury, Rocha took part in a ‘Played Up Pompey’ book signing in the Victory Lounge before the match.
The Portuguese also received a touching reception when introduced on the pitch to supporters at half-time. And he revelled being back on the south coast.
Rocha said: ‘It has been amazing. I’ve always had so much support from the fans.
‘Pompey is a special place for me and a special team.
‘I am a big supporter of the club and always looking to see the results and making interactions with the fans on Twitter.
‘Sometimes you go to places and feelings happen. I don’t know why I like the club so much but I am a fan now.
‘In Benfica I won titles, I won the league, the cup, the Super Cup.
‘Here I went to an FA Cup final and okay it’s a big thing, but it’s not as much – so to have this support from the fans is incredible. I really appreciate it.
‘I am overwhelmed and thank you for the good things Pompey fans say about me.
‘Visiting Fratton Park, everybody was recognising me and I was thinking “how is this possible?” because I have been away four years.
‘It’s very special to be recognised for staying at the club with all the difficulties they went through in my time here.’
Rocha and his family returned to England for a three-day trip specifically to attend a Pompey match.
A popular presence on Twitter, he had long promised Blues followers he would show his face at Fratton Park again.
Supporter John Twine even bought the 39-year-old a pint in the Victory Lounge, honouring a promise he had made should he return.
Likewise, Rocha has immense respect for the Fratton faithful.
He added: ‘It’s easy to get the club. It’s easy to see how important the club is for the fans.
‘People sometimes call me a “legend” but I am not a legend here, the fans are legends.
‘The people who took over the club in the most difficult times, they are the legends.
‘Look where the club is now – progressing and looking very good for the future.’