Following the appointment of Jose Mourinho in the summer of 2004, the Portuguese signed a number of fellow countrymen to boost his new squad. Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, and Tiago were the big names signed from the Portuguese League that summer.
This week’s Forgotten Blue is another player that was signed from that league in that summer, but his Chelsea career didn’t hit the heights that the other three managed.
That player is Nuno Morais.
At his hometown club of Penafiel, Morais was a regular starter and cemented his place as one of the side’s key players. His performances in Portugal earned him a trial at Stamford Bridge. He clearly impressed Mourinho and Chelsea, who went on to sign him on a three-year deal.
During the 2004/05 season, as Chelsea won the league for the first time in 50 years, Morais made two league appearances for the Blues, as well as playing 90 minutes in an FA Cup fixture against Scunthorpe United, as well as a solitary appearance in the Champions League.
With first team football unlikely for Morais, he was sent out on loan to Portuguese side Maritimo for the entirety of the 2005/06 season and made 20 appearances in all competitions in his native country. He returned to Chelsea for the 2006/07 season.
Back at Chelsea, Morais yet again failed to nail down a regular spot in Jose Mourinho’s side. He made five appearances in all competitions during the season, with two coming in the league, and the other three in cup competitions.
After three years in West London, Morais left the club following the expiration of his contract. In the summer of 2007, he made the move to Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia.
A decade has passed since his move to Cyprus, and Morais is still at the club. Currently the club’s vice-captain, Morais has helped the club to win seven Cypriot First Division titles, as well as the Cypriot Cup three times, and the Cypriot Super Cup on four occasions.
The Portuguese player made a brief return to Stamford Bridge with APOEL, with the two clubs being drawn together in the group stages of the Champions League in the 2009/10 season. With qualification already secured for the knock-out stages, a weakened Chelsea were held to a 2-2 draw by Morais’ APOEL side.
Morais has also broken a number of APOEL records during his time in the capital of Cyprus. In May 2016, he reached 251 league matches for APOEL and became the foreigner with the most appearances in the Cypriot top division’s history.
He also holds the club’s all-time record for appearances in European competitions; reaching the landmark in a Champions League play-off fixture against Danish side FC Copenhagen.
Despite never making the grade at Stamford Bridge, Morais made a name for himself in Cyprus and is one of APOEL’s greats.