As Thiago Silva celebrates his 38th birthday today, the Brazilian has been reflecting on the secrets behind his longevity and why he believes he still has plenty more in the tank…
The defender is currently with the national team in France preparing for a pair of friendly matches there against Ghana and Tunisia. In exactly nine weeks’ time, he will be hoping to lead the Selecao into their opening World Cup group game in his fourth tournament, desperate to triumph and lift one trophy that has up to this point eluded him.
While his vast experience will undoubtedly prove vital to Tite’s men in Qatar, Thiago Silva will not even be in the top 10 oldest players to feature at a World Cup and is positively youthful when compared to the tournament’s most senior representative, Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who played in Russia at the age of 45.
Yet competing on the highest levels both for club and country is not easy when you reach your late thirties and so no stone is left unturned in the quest for fitness and match preparedness.
‘It’s very important for me that I can play on this level at this age but it’s not easy, especially in the Premier League,’ he said recently.
‘When I finish training, I come back home and think about how I can repair myself for tomorrow.
‘The intensity is high from the first minute to the last one so you have to be ready all the time. I might be 38 years old but I think I can help this team as much as possible.’
Football has changed a great deal over the course of Thiago Silva’s long career, with advancements in sports science and physiology prolonging playing careers, but our number six believes that what you do away from the training ground is just as important as what goes on in the work environment.
‘There are many things that help and players are also more professional now,’ he explained. ‘Players are like athletes today. The mental aspect is also very important.
‘You know that you need to have a calm head because if you do other things outside the field, you will be tired. That’s my opinion. The players are more professional now than before.’
Being involved at the World Cup has been Thiago Silva’s long-stated aim but he also harbours ambitions of extending his stay at Stamford Bridge beyond the length of his current contract, which expires next summer.
He uses the example of his former AC Milan team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who he may come up against in the Champions League next month, as motivation to continue playing at the highest level for as long as his body allows.
‘I talk often with Zlatan and recently more often because Chelsea will play against AC Milan in the Champions league,’ he added. ‘My aim is to play until I'm 40 years old but I don’t know if it will be this level or this competition.
‘It depends on this season and we’ll see what will happen in the World Cup. It also depends on a contract extension but yeah, my aim is to play until I’m 40.’