Interview

Thiago Silva on leadership, language and going from facing Bayern to Barnsley

Our new defender has been discussing what qualities he can bring to the Chelsea defence and the shock illness that almost ruined his football career...

In his last competitive match action back in August, Thiago Silva was playing in a Champions League final but now his attention is on the Tykes of Barnsley in what is expected to be his Chelsea debut at Stamford Bridge this evening.

Frank Lampard indicated his new defender would play some part in our Carabao Cup third round tie against the Championship Yorkshiremen when the boss spoke to the media in his pre-match press conference.

Whether he lines up from the start or is introduced from the bench remains to be seen but the man who turned 36 yesterday insists his preparations remain exactly the same whatever the competition or opposition.

‘I will continue to prepare as best as possible,’ our new number six claimed. ‘It will be a difficult game, as it was a month ago, but regardless of our opposition if we can play our game and do our best then we will get the win. If we prepare well then we’re closer to getting the victory.’

Preparation has been a buzzword for the Brazilian since his arrival at Stamford Bridge. Clearly, you don’t have the success or longevity that he has enjoyed without being the model professional day-in, day-out, year after year.

Thiago Silva completed his move from Paris to London last month, signing a one-year contract with Chelsea having the option of a further 12 months. The short-term nature of the deal does not concern him; in fact, he sees it as quite normal for a player of his age and is relishing the opportunity to earn an extended stay in west London.

‘When you get to a certain age, the tendency is that you find a different type of contract and at times maybe there are doubts about meeting expectations.' he explained. 'I have no doubt that I will give everything and contribute.

‘I prepare and work really hard with everything that I do. I love football, I love preparation but it’s not a case of preparing on Friday for a game on Saturday. This type of preparation goes way back so I’m completely relaxed about the contract.

‘I will prepare to do my best possible and really help this new team and this new project. I’ve accepted this new challenge and it’s going to be really good for me. Everyone knows my ambition is to play at the World Cup in two years’ time when I’ll be 38 – that’s a great responsibility. I’m immensely proud at coming to play in the Premier League at 36 years old.’

Much has been made of the experienced South American’s leadership qualities and his ability to bolster Lampard’s rearguard ranks, though Thiago Silva insists that defending is the responsibility of the whole team.

‘It’s always difficult when you’re at a big club because there are a lot of demands and all the players need to be aware of their responsibilities in a Chelsea shirt,' he added. 'When mistakes are made, people always look to blame the defence but that’s not always the case.

‘The defensive responsibilities come from across the team and what I’m here to do is help the team on the pitch. I’m the type of player who communicates a lot, I like to encourage and motivate those around me so that we can achieve great things at Chelsea.'

Born in Rio de Janeiro, the defender spent time in Portugal, Italy and France before his move to the Premier League. He is used to adapting to new surroundings, new cultures and new languages so does not believe the move across the Channel will cause too many issues.

‘It’s going to be difficult as it always is at the start with a new language but I already speak Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese and the tendency is once you’ve learnt other languages, it should come easier,' he said. 'I hope to learn English as quickly as possible and I’m studying Monday to Friday.

‘Football is a mix of communications so it’s a similar language. I’m looking at some basic terms and words to be able to help the team like tracking back and changing side – I’m trying to clarify these important words. The other players use a lot of other languages as well.’

Thiago Silva has won 20 major honours during a distinguished football career at club level, as well as the Copa America and Confederations Cup for Brazil, for whom he has 89 caps. However, all these achievements might not have been possible given a shocking diagnosis for tuberculosis when he was just 20 years old playing on loan in Russia.

‘It was one of the worst experiences in my life because you have a dream to be playing as a professional footballer and when I got tuberculosis, it seemed that the dream would be over,’ he recalled.

‘Thank God, I had the strength to overcome it and get well. It’s difficult to talk about because it brings back these memories - I remember my last day in the hospital, the doctor told me that I hadn’t been cured, that I needed an operation on my lung and that my football career would be over.

‘The specialists helped me get better and with dedication, I managed to return to play football. It’s really difficult, something not many people have gone through in their lives and a lot of people haven’t recovered in the past so I think about it a lot.

‘Thankfully, I had the strength to overcome it and now today I can say I’m a champion not just in football but also in life.’


-Begin your build-up to our Carabao Cup tie with all the necessary facts and figures

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