Aged 39 years and 64 days old, Thiago Silva made a significant piece of Chelsea history on Saturday.

The defender became the oldest outfield player to ever represent the club when he featured at St James’ Park. That he continues to play at such a high level is testament to the dedication he has shown towards his craft – and the effort he puts into his recovery.

Thiago has not done it alone, though. A football career contains many obstacles, even if few players have had to deal with a life-threatening illness, just as Thiago did nearly 20 years ago now.

As the Brazilian explains to us down at Cobham, if you want to achieve longevity in the game it is imperative to have the backing of your nearest and dearest.

‘My family have supported me throughout my whole career, and my wife in particular has always been there for me,’ says Thiago.

‘When we got married, she said she would always support my decisions and she still does now, even more so. There are some sacrifices, and there are certain things we can’t do together because of how important recovery is.

‘If it was up to her, I would still be playing until I was 50! Often we have conversations where I have to remind her how important my recovery is. She’s someone who likes going out a lot more, and I prefer to stay in more.’

It is pieces of advice such as that Thiago finds himself passing on to younger team-mates. Even putting the youthful make-up of Mauricio Pochettino’s squad to one side, Thiago is clearly the elder statesman.

It is a role he takes seriously and it is clearly paying off, with Reece James recently telling us Thiago is the player he turns to for extra support.

‘I have a really good relationship with Reece James,’ Thiago confirms. ‘He’s a really good captain and he has a big future because he’s a really good listener.

‘It’s my job to be a bit of a sounding board now. It’s hard because sometimes the players are very different in age to myself. What we want to do is speed up the process of understanding and I think the players we have here are generally good at that.’

Wherever he has been, his personality and style of play have ensured cult hero status. However, there is something that stands Chelsea apart from others in Thiago’s mind. It is the fact his two boys, Iago and Isago, are part of our Academy.

‘I have to say, at every club I’ve been at, I’ve felt a lot of love from the clubs themselves and the fans, but here it feels a little bit different, because of the fact that my kids are playing in the team too,’ Thiago explains.

‘For me, it would be a dream to see them play professionally at Chelsea. I love watching them, ultimately, and I try to help them as much as I can.

I love seeing my kids playing here, my wife is here all the time and even wants to be at every away game. I think she realises that time is running out slightly, so she wants to make the most of the last few years of my career.

‘When I got here, it felt like love at first sight, to be honest, and I’m still very proud to be here.’