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Hilario, Henrique


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Henrique Hilario

Written by Alan and last updated July 2008.

[[fimg]=left]http://www.theshedend.com/fansite/images/Current_Squad/Henrique_Hilario/hilario%20after%20the%20barcelona%20win%20oct%202006.jpg[/[fimg]]

Hilario celebrates the 1-0 win over Barcelona on 18 October 2007, one hell of a debut for a third choice keeper 'We've got Hilario! 'We've got Hilario!'

On October 18th 2007, a Chelsea cult hero was born. After the harrowing events of the previous Saturday, third choice keeper, Henrique Hilario was asked to fill in against the mighty Barcelona in a Champions League tie at Stamford Bridge.

Hilario had joined Chelsea in the summer from Portuguese side Nacional, and well, hardly anyone outside of Chelsea noticed. Hilario had played under Mourinho at Porto season and Mourinho knew he could be trusted.

"I already worked with him and I know he is intelligent. It's necessary to be intelligent in order be a substitute to the best goalkeeper in the world." Mourinho said upon signing Hilario.

Hilario became our third choice keeper behind Cech and Cudicini. Many expected him to not play a single game. How wrong they were.

[[fimg]=right]http://www.theshedend.com/fansite/images/Current_Squad/Henrique_Hilario/hilario%20during%20the%20barcelona%20win%20oct%202006.jpg[/[fimg]]

When the game against Barcelona came, the journalists had their knives sharpened. They had images of the headlines they could produce, because they managed to put their four collective brain cells together and realise Hilario is not too dissimilar from the word 'hilarious'. Hilario did have previous against Barca. Hilario played against Barcelona in two group games in 2000. He conceded 6 goals in the two games, including one from a free kick, where Rivaldo pointed out where he was going to put the ball, and did so.

To our delight, Hilario produced a solid performance, keeping a clean sheet. Every touch and save from him was cheered like a goal by the Chelsea fans inside Stamford Bridge who saw Chelsea win 1-0 thanks to a great goal from Didier Drogba.

With Cech and Cudicini out for the foreseeable future, Hilario became our number one keeper and played a number of Premiership, League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League games. All in all he played 18 games, keeping 8 clean sheets.

[[fimg]=left]http://www.theshedend.com/fansite/images/Current_Squad/Henrique_Hilario/hilario%20saves%20from%20andy%20johnson%20against%20everton%203%202%20win%20in%202007.jpg[/[fimg]]

Hilario further cemented his cult status amongst the Chelsea faithful in an away fixture against Sheffield United in November. Didier Drogba fouled Claude Davis in the box and Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot. Danny Weber stepped up but Hilario saved the penalty and we coasted to a 2-0 win.

[[fimg]=right]http://www.theshedend.com/fansite/images/Current_Squad/Henrique_Hilario/hilario%20general.jpg[/[fimg]]

As good as Hilario was in filling in for Cech and Cudicini, it was a relief when both of them recovered and were able to pull on a Chelsea shirt again. Many thought Cech never would after that dreadful evening in October. Hilario did have a weakness when it came to crosses and the backline looked much more assured when the '£50 million' player stepped back between the posts.

Mourinho jokingly said he would consider using Hilario as a striker in the build up to the FA Cup Final. Roy of the Rovers style dreams of Hilario scoring the winning goal were dashed as Hilario didn't even make the bench. Chelsea went on to lift the cup and complete a domestic cup double.

So far this season Hilario has taken part in a number of games, due to the absence of Cech and Cudicini. So far this season Hilario has played 5 games for the club, 3 in the league, 1 in the FA Cup and 1 in the Champions League against Fenerbache.

[[fimg]=left]http://www.theshedend.com/fansite/images/Current_Squad/Henrique_Hilario/hilario%20%20punches%20clear%20under%20pressure%20from%20roque%20santa%20cruz%20%20of%20blackburn%20on%2023%20dec%2007.gif[/[fimg]]

Overall, Hilario proved an able stand in for two of the best keepers in the world. Hilario's last appearance in a blue shirt came in the 2-0 Champions League win over Fenerbache where he made two very good saves to prevent a crucial away goal. Whether he plays another remains to be seen. What is undisputed is that Hilario will always be remembered by Chelsea fans, who will think back to that October night at the Bridge where Hilario kept a clean sheet and the reigning European Champions were defeated.

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