As we approach the end of Thiago Silva’s third season with Chelsea, Frank Lampard describes the important impact the Brazilian has on the team with his leadership qualities, and recalls how he was instantly in awe of the veteran defender when he first arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2020.
Frank Lampard is coaching Thiago Silva at Chelsea for the second time, since returning as caretaker manager in April, having also been in the dug-out when the centre-back signed for the Blues three years ago.
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Despite turning 38 years old this season, Thiago Silva continues to defy the passing of time with his incredible longevity, remaining one of the first names on Lampard’s team sheet and frequently wearing the captain’s armband in matches.
However, our caretaker manager long ago stopped being surprised by how the defender continues to thrive at the highest level of the game at his age – although his admiration for it remains as strong as ever – having realised right from the start of Thiago Silva’s Chelsea career that we had our hands on a truly world-class player and professional.
‘It's an amazing achievement physically. I played until 38 or 39 but the last couple of years in the MLS, I started to understand that my body was telling me not to do it anymore,’ said Lampard.
‘So to see someone at centre-back, which I think is probably the hardest position in terms of how you could get exposed at that age. He doesn’t get exposed because of the level of player he is, because of his quick thinking and understanding of the role and covering danger – it’s just amazing.
‘In terms of when I brought him here to the club, it was immediately evident that he was a different level of player, as in a top higher level of player. Possibly not better than I thought, but to work with him was like “wow”.’
Thiago Silva’s individual contribution on the pitch, while seemingly as brilliant as ever in what should be the twilight years of his career, is just one part of what makes the Brazilian such a huge asset to Chelsea, though.
According to Lampard, his influence on the rest of the squad is arguably just as important, being a perfect example of why the best leaders aren’t always the loudest voice in the dressing room. It is those qualities which could be especially vital in helping the team return to the levels expected at Chelsea next season.
‘He’s demanding, to be fair, and that’s a good thing,’ said Lampard. ‘I wouldn’t say he’s the most vocal. Each to their own, personality-wise. Some players would be really vocal in a collective environment, he’s not that, but he’s one of those players that leads by example.
‘So I think players that play next to or with him understand what the levels are and what is required. If you don’t get to them you’ll get a look or a talk or something. He’s not a screamer or shouter, but he certainly is one who demands from people around him and that’s a good thing, because at this level you need players like that.
‘They’re not everywhere, players that can say “this is what I’ve done in my career so listen to what I’ve done because I’m still doing it”.
‘He’s one of the best in the world in his position, looks after himself, has a really good understanding of the game, wants to affect the people around him and I’ve got nothing but praise for the career that Thiago’s had.
‘To see him at this level is an inspiration to all the players that could and should learn a lot from him in terms of how he looks after himself off the pitch and how he approaches training daily and what he demands from his team-mates. That’s something that has to rub off at this club more at the minute. He’s special.’