On the day the FIFA 2022 World Cup starts, Thiago Silva takes centre stage in the next instalment of our interview series asking the Chelsea players for their memories of the tournament growing up and what they want to achieve in Qatar.

This will be the fourth World Cup Thiago Silva has represented Brazil at, and he will captain his country as the Selecao seek a first triumph in 20 years.

Now 38, Thiago knows this will likely be his last chance to lift the biggest trophy of them all, and with Brazil heading into the tournament in such good form and with an array of talent, hopes are high they can replicate their five previous successes, one of which gave Thiago his first taste of World Cup football…

First World Cup you remember?

‘It’s 1994 in the United States when we won. It’s a good memory! I was 10 years old and I watched it with friends at home. It was a bit difficult to watch when it went to penalties! It was so exciting because fortunately it went well.

‘The thing I remember above all is the last penalty from Baggio, that he shot over and gave us the possibility to be champions. Of course for him it was catastrophic, but for us it was pure elation.’

Memorable World Cup moment?

‘The fantastic moment that comes to mind was Brazil v Netherlands in ’94 and the free-kick from Branco. He hit the ball from very far out with a lot of bend on it. It so nearly hit Romario. He just got out of the way of it so it didn’t touch him. If it had touched him even a fraction it would have gone wide.

‘It was amazing for me to see the technique Branco used to kick the ball, where he hit the ball and the swerve on the ball for it to hit the net.’

Favourite World Cup song?

‘To be truthful I don’t pay attention to that, but Waka Waka is a song that brings back happy memories from my first World Cup.’

Favourite World Cup kit?

‘Of course it’s from Brazil! The one I really liked was the kit we used in 2002, when we were champions also. It was a bit bizarre because it was nearly two kits, one in another. I have a clear image in my head of Edmilson trying to change his shirt after it had ripped in the final. He tried to put on another shirt but it didn’t fit well and he had difficulty putting it on! But aesthetically it was a good shirt.’

Stadium you’d like to play a World Cup final in?

‘I have never thought about this before…nobody has asked me! The stadium which comes to my head, because it’s very big, very special, is the San Siro. It’s a really fantastic stadium and of course big enough to hold a match like that.’

What have you learned from the three previous World Cups you have featured at?

‘I have learned a lot, above all in moments that were not good. The thing that stands out is how quick a World Cup is. If you are not attentive, the moment can pass and maybe you make an error.

‘I have found that you need to react faster in certain situations. If you wait even five or 10 minutes, it’s possible you won’t be able to retrieve the situation.’

And this World Cup especially there is much less time than usual…

‘Chelsea’s last game was the 12th, we joined up with our team-mates on the 14th, and the first game is the 24th. That’s 10 days of preparation. The other three World Cups I played, there was one month of preparation.

‘For me it’s a lot, and now it’s very quick, but the positive is we have already been in good form with a team that has played together for four years. We are prepared.’

For many, Brazil are the favourites. What are your expectations?

‘Our expectations are to do a good World Cup. We are playing well, we have had good results, with performances at a very high level. It’s that that gives us the calmness to be sure we are on the right path.

‘You can’t say you’re going to win, that will backfire. It’s just necessary to play match after match, understand the situation you’re in, take confidence, and continue. The World Cup is never easy, but we have a great possibility because we have big players.’