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The weekend interview: Filipe Luis

Filipe Luis has plenty of European heritage and, as the defender explains, it is the decade since he left South America that has helped make him the footballer he is today.

The defender’s career has taken him from the south-east coast of Brazil to the north-east coast of Spain, via Amsterdam, Madrid and, since July, London.

The multinational feel to his football journey extends to his family; all four of his grandparents hail from Europe, immigrants in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. His grandfather on his father’s side escaped Poland during the Second World War.

But Filipe Luis grew up a Brazilian and it is their national side he represents, most recently appearing for the Seleção in a pair of friendly victories earlier this month.

So it was with this cosmopolitan background in mind that the official Chelsea website caught up with Filipe Luis at our Cobham training base, eager to discover more detail about his decade in Europe so far.

‘I came to Europe when I was very young to play football, I was 19 years old,’ he recalls. ‘That’s where my European style of play comes from I think. Of course I have some Brazilian aspects in me too from playing as a young guy back home, but I think the tactical side of my game is mostly European.

‘I joined Ajax when I was really young and I learned a lot there. It’s a great school to learn about football. In Holland tactics are very important and, even though I didn’t actually have the chance to play a first team match there, I learned a lot about the tactical side of the game.

‘They had a really good squad during my season there – Van der Vaart, Sneijder, Maxwell, Heitinga, Pienaar. Zlatan left pretty much when I joined so I didn’t really have the chance to play with him. But training with those kinds of players really helped my development.

 

The football is unbelievable here: strong, tactical and also very physical.

‘I then moved to Real Madrid where I played for their B team,’ continues Filipe Luis. ‘I played all the games and then I moved to La Coruna to play for Deportivo.

‘I think it was there, in La Coruna, that I had the explosion in my career. We had some really good seasons there. I had a lot of offers from other clubs and there was a lot of talk about me at that time.

‘We had a great dressing room. Everybody was really friendly, the coaches too. I made a lot of friends there, so I had a really great time in my four years in La Coruna.’

During the end of his time in Galicia, Filipe Luis suffered a bad leg injury but he recovered in time to feature in Depor’s final two games of the 2009/10 season. That summer, he signed for Atletico Madrid. Trophies were the target; achieved, over the ensuing four seasons, handsomely, both at home and abroad.

The trajectory of Filipe Luis’ career so far suggests he is a man unafraid of challenging himself; unafraid of sticking to comfort zones. Not when further achievement and exploration is possible.

It is now two months since the 29-year-old’s move to Stamford Bridge, and four weeks since his Chelsea debut. Enough time, then, to take stock on the latest chapter of his career.

‘So far it’s been really good for me,’ he says. ‘The football is unbelievable here: strong, tactical and also very physical – much more physical than in Spain.

‘For me it’s been a really fast adaptation and my team-mates have helped me a lot with that. I’m really happy here.’

That successful bedding-in process extends to his new surroundings – he describes London as an ‘absolutely amazing place’ – while there was cause for celebration on Monday following the birth of his second child, a baby girl named Sara.

‘She’s eating, growing and gaining weight,’ he beams. ‘Of course when you have the first one it’s a new feeling, but when you have the second one it’s a really special feeling.

‘It makes you think like you have a big family. With two children it seems way bigger than just one. I’m very excited to see her growing up in the next few years and also to see her playing with my son.’

A new team, a new city, a new child. Expect Filipe Luis to take it all in his stride.

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