On the day Brazil’s Copa America group stage campaign concludes, Thiago Silva recalls the important progress he made in his defensive development during his time with Fluminense in his homeland.

The Selecao have already guaranteed top spot in Group B ahead of tonight’s fixture against Ecuador in Goiania. Thiago Silva has featured in their two most recent victories, over Peru and Colombia, and is closing in on 100 caps for his country.

His first came in 2008, reward for two years of outstanding performances at Fluminense after a serious illness had threatened his life and ended his first stint in European football early.

‘A 22-year-old player, especially a defender, is at the beginning of their career,’ noted Thiago Silva as he reflected on his first year at Fluminense.

‘Of course that’s true for a forward as well, but a forward is able to play professionally when they are 17 or 18 years old. For a defender, that’s a bit more difficult, you have to have more experience, the responsibility is much higher.

‘Forwards have less responsibility. They can do things using intuition. At the back, things are a bit more serious, in terms of positioning.

‘I think that the 22-year-old Thiago was a guy who was willing to learn. Even though he had a good season with Fluminense, he still had a lot to learn.

‘And the best thing is that I was prepared to learn, that’s what I consider the best thing. There’s no use in knowing that you need to learn if you lack the patience and the comprehension of things, because that doesn’t work.’

It was during his time playing for Fluminense at the Maracana Thiago Silva began to be known as ‘O Monstro’, or The Monster. It is a nickname that has stuck to this day back in Brazil.

‘Firstly, it was because of the good performances I’d put in, and due to the confidence that not only I, but all of the defence was giving to our goalkeeper,’ he recalls.

‘Actually, it was not the fans who came up with that nickname, it was the goalkeeper, Fernando Henrique [dos Anjos].

‘He was the one who came up with that nickname after a move from the opposition in which I made a good recovery and was able to prevent them from scoring.

‘Then, he looked at me and said ‘Nice one, Monster!’ Then the fans heard that through the microphones behind the goal and started calling me Monstro.’