Ramires enjoying rapid rise

As winter has set in, Ramires has been one of Chelsea's better players, playing particularly well against Newcastle, Tottenham, Bolton and Aston Villa. Over to William Turvill.

Seven years ago, Chelsea were starting to enjoy the riches brought to the club by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. At the same time, Ramires was working part time on a building site in Rio de Janeiro. Since then, though, the Brazil midfielder has enjoyed quite an incredible rise to prominence.

In 2008, Ramires was a 21-year-old Cruzeiro player who was soon to be called up to the Brazil first-team but had never left his home country. At the age of 22, the midfielder was summoned to Europe in May 2009 for GBP6.25million and in his only season at Benfica he helped them to win the Portuguese Primeira Liga, making 26 appearances and scoring four goals.

A year after signing for the Portuguese giants, the midfielder's value had almost tripled and he joined reigning English Premier League champions Chelsea. Ramires' tough-tackling nature made him a much-sought-after prospect throughout Europe's elite clubs, but it is fair to say the young Brazilian has had a tough time adapting to life in England's Premier League.

After making his debut as a substitute against Stoke at the end of August, the first time Ramires really began to show his quality was during Chelsea's 2-0 victory over Arsenal at the beginning of October.

Since then Ramires has been thrust into action following injuries to various midfield players. While he has been improving, he has also frustrated Chelsea supporters who are used to seeing experienced and world-class players like Frank Lampard and Michael Essien bossing the midfield.

Whenever Ramires has been criticised for his displays, Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, has been quick to leap to his defence. “He is 23, he changed country, language, everything, so it is not easy to immediately show your quality,” explained Ancelotti. “A lot of fantastic players had the same problems, last year Yury Zhirkov had difficulty to adapt. I want to mention Michel Platini, when he came to Italy, his first six months was very poor, so it's normal, so you need to have time to adapt.”

As winter has set in, Ramires has been one of Chelsea's better players, playing particularly well against Newcastle, Tottenham, Bolton and Aston Villa.

In his first half-season at Stamford Bridge, he has clearly found it hard to adapt to the strength and intensity of the Premier League, but his enthusiasm, work ethic and team spirit cannot be thrown into question.

Looking at Ramires' much-improved, strong-willed performances and the rate at which his footballing and life prospects have improved over the past seven years, it would not be a surprise if, in a few years, Ramires becomes Chelsea's star player.

The Brazilian, though, is keen to play down his individual prospects. He said: “It is a team game so these things are not individual things. I don't come into games believing I could be a hero, I am just there to help the team.”

After such a smooth transition to life at Benfica, he has had a stuttering start to life in the EPL. Ramires is married to Islana, with whom he has a four-month-old son called Davi. The midfielder has several cars and has a penchant for 4X4s.

FACTFILE Name: Ramires Position: Midfielder Club: Chelsea D.O.B: 24/03/1987 Brazil caps: 19 Brazil debut: v Uruguay, June 2009 Moment to remember:

Being involved in a star-studded Brazil squad for the 2010 World Cup.

Moment to forget:

Ramires' and Chelsea's worst performance of the season was a 3-0 defeat to Sunderland at Stamford Bridge.

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