Thiago Silva is experiencing his first Christmas in England so who better to ask about this time of year than our Brazilian defender. We caught up with him for an exclusive interview about the festivities back home, his Christmas wishlist and the prospect of playing twice in three days…

What was a normal Christmas like for you growing up in Brazil Thiago?

For us Brazilians, it is a party with your family. I remember well spending each Christmas with my grandmother. She’s still with us, but it’s beginning to get tiring for her. It’s sad, because I remember magnificent Christmases, all the family together, and then everyone did their own thing.

Particularly once I started playing football, I left Rio and I couldn’t often be with them during the year, but this is the first year I won’t be with them at Christmas. Even when I was previously in Milan and Paris, we didn’t have matches or training over Christmas so I could go home to Brazil.

In England we don’t, and so it’s the first time I will be spending it far away from my family and parents, but we are still happy because these things happen in football. The moment I signed with Chelsea I knew I could not spend Christmas with them.

Is the religious element of Christmas important for you?

Religion for us is very important, and Brazilians believe in that. Each have their religion but ultimately religion is ambiguous and hard. I’m a man who firmly believes in religion, and I think that our future is decided for us but you need to work to realise your dreams. If you stay at home in the evening on your sofa and you wait for things to come to you of course they won’t materialise.

But in my opinion God watches the efforts you make to bring your dreams to life. And there he starts to write you things, and it’s up to you to seek them.

What is the best present you have received?

My children. They are the best presents.

Any good Brazilian Christmas songs or movies you would recommend?

I don’t remember. Songs, no. But films, I can’t remember the name of the film!

What Brazilian Christmas tradition should we be doing in the UK?

It’s tough because I’ve just arrived and I don’t really know the English culture at Christmas. I know it’s very important, people love it because there are lots of matches and important moments for them. I can say that in Brazil it’s a family festival, at midnight we stay together and eat together and after midnight we celebrate a bit, we drink beer and alcohol. After that, it’s over but it’s just a moment to spend time with the family.

You once gave Kylian Mbappe a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mask when you were at PSG together. Have you got any presents planned to give to your Chelsea team-mates this year?

No, I haven’t thought about it! When I was thinking about what to buy Kylian, everyone was calling him that name, and when I was at home I saw that mask which my children had so as a joke I got a Dior bag and put that mask inside. I arrived and wished him a happy birthday, wished him well and left. I hid behind with my phone and filmed him whilst he opened it. After he opened it, he saw the mask and started laughing, everyone was laughing because it was unexpected.

What do you want for Christmas this year?

Just good health, to keep playing well with my team, a good team spirit and everyone with the same goal. This would be a good gift, not just for me but for everyone, especially everything we’ve been through in the world – the virus, Covid and all that.

You have said normally during the winter break you go to the beach on Boxing Day with your family. This year you will be playing Arsenal! Are you excited for this new experience?

I am ready. I’m going to picture myself on the beach and then play football! The feeling will be amazing because ever since I was a kid it was my dream to play football. Even now for Christmas if we will be on the pitch, we need to celebrate because not everyone who has a dream of playing football professionally can do so, so I am happy and excited to be there.

Even if last year I was on the beach, and this time I’ll be on the pitch, the feeling will be the same – happy. And thanks to God I am here.

Have you ever had to play two league games in three days before, like we are this year?

Never! That’s the culture here, that’s the way it is. I have spoken to the coach about this situation and we will see what happens. Maybe I play two matches, maybe one, we will see.

In two years’ time, the World Cup final will be held a week before Christmas Day. Does it remain an ambition of yours to be playing for Brazil in that showpiece occasion?

Yes. First, I have this ambition to continue producing good performances here at Chelsea. I chose this club to keep playing at a very, very high level. Of course my ambition is to keep working hard to play at the next World Cup. It will be a World Cup very special, different to all the others.

I hope to have the possibility of going there, but for now I have to keep working at this level and continue winning qualifying matches for the Selecao to even qualify for the World Cup! People talk about the World Cup this, the World Cup that, but first you have to qualify.

That’s my main ambition, to continue playing with my team-mates and winning matches to qualify and then, of course, prepare ourselves and try to bring back the big trophy to Brazil.