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Thiago Silva

BIOGRAPHY

Chelsea completed the signing of one of the biggest names in world football in August 2020, with Thiago Silva joining on an initial one-year contract, which was later extended for a further 12 months.

Thiago Silva has long been acknowledged as one of the world’s most accomplished and successful defenders, winning silverware in Brazil, Italy, France, now England and at international level, in addition to a long list of individual honours.

As well as being blessed with pace and strength that make him a formidable opponent on the ground and in the air, being affectionately nicknamed ‘The Monster’ by the Brazilian and French press, he has the composure and technical ability to play the ball out from centre-back and a wealth of experience at the highest level of football. He has captained Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and the Brazilian national team.

2020/21

By his own admission, Thiago Silva’s introduction to Premier League football was tough. As captain, he made an individual mistake as West Brom built an unexpected 3-0 lead before half-time in our third league game of the season, before we fought back to draw 3-3.

However, that was more or less the only foot he put wrong all season. We conceded just twice in his next nine appearances across the Premier League and Champions League, with Thiago regularly holding the armband and even offering a threat in front of goal, netting emphatic headers against Sheffield United and West Ham United.

A tricky winter period ended when his old PSG boss Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard. After a pair of clean sheets in Tuchel’s first two games, Thiago Silva picked up a thigh injury in the third with us 1-0 up at Spurs. It ruled him out of action until April, when his return was marred by two yellow cards in quick succession against his unlikely bogey team West Brom.

He was soon back in the team and back to his very best, notably in the crucial 1-0 victory at West Ham, and then both legs of our Champions League semi-final tie with Real Madrid. His ability in and out of possession, and his reading of the game, stood out when it mattered most.

The final showdown with Manchester City in Porto, a city that means so much to Thiago Silva from his time playing there, began in heartbreaking fashion when he had to be replaced shortly before Kai Havertz's winner.

The groin injury may have ended his time on the pitch early, but it did not stop him celebrating a famous victory when the final whistle blew. After so many failed attempts at winning this competition during his years in Italy and France, he had succeeded at the first time of asking in England. He declared it a career highlight, and not long afterwards his contract at Chelsea was extended by one year.

Pre-Chelsea

All those qualities were on display when he helped the French side reach the Champions League final for the first time in the 2019/20 season. He earned further praise for leading a valiant defensive effort against Bayern Munich in his last match for PSG and became the first Brazilian to captain a team in a Champions League final.

Chelsea fans were already familiar with Thiago Silva’s talents from our frequent Champions League meetings with the Paris Saint-Germain, particularly in our last-16 tie in 2015 when he marked Diego Costa tightly in the first leg in France and then headed in the decisive goal in extra-time at Stamford Bridge.

That competition has often brought the best out of him. In addition to his impressive displays in PSG's run to the 2020 final, when he became the first Brazilian to captain a team in the Champions League final, he scored on his debut for them in a 4-1 group-stage win over Dynamo Kiev and his performance against Barcelona in 2013 was so good it had his then-manager Carlo Ancelotti and Brazil legend Ronaldo calling for him to win the Ballon d’Or.

Despite missing out on a Champions League winner’s medal in his last game, Thiago Silva left Paris Saint-Germain as a proven winner, having been a key member of the side that amassed an incredible 23 trophies during his eight years there. That included 2019/20’s clean sweep of domestic silverware and claiming the Ligue 1 title in all but one of his campaigns in the French capital.

No player had won Ligue 1 more times than Thiago Silva’s seven, with his triumph in his final season in France matching an individual record which has stood since the 1960s. He was also named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year seven times and the UEFA Team of the Year twice while at the Parc des Princes.

However, despite all his success, he was something of a late comer to the highest level of the game. He started his career in the Brazilian amateur leagues before turning professional with regional third-division side RS Futebol as a teenager. His performances in midfield as they achieved promotion secured him a move to the top flight with Juventude aged 20, where his switch to centre-back resulted in him catching the eye with some impressive performances.

Europe soon came calling and he signed for Porto in 2004, but it turned out to be a false start. Following a year acclimatising to a new continent with the Portuguese side’s ‘B’ team, he went to Dinamo Moscow, but missed the entire season after being hospitalised with a life-threatening illness in Russia.

Despite fearing an early retirement, Thiago Silva was offered a return to Brazil with hometown side Fluminense, where he had spent time as a trialist as a youngster. There he fully recovered to repay their faith in him by helping them to win their first-ever Copa do Brasil. His performances over three years back in Rio de Janeiro helped him break into the national team squad and be voted by fans as the top division’s best player, before getting a second shot at European football in 2009.

This time there were no setbacks as he instantly became a key player in the AC Milan defence, with club legends Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi naming him as their natural successor. He proved them correct by becoming the first foreigner to captain the club in 50 years and playing a starring role as they claimed the Serie A title in 2011.

International

It was during his time in Milan that Thiago Silva became a regular starter for the Brazilian national team and was named captain of his country shortly after their Serie A triumph. That meant he was wearing the armband as Brazil won the 2013 Confederations Cup in impressive style.

He was captain again when they competed in the following year’s World Cup on home soil and scored in the quarter-final victory over Colombia, but was suspended when they were beaten in the semis by Germany, with many pointing to his absence as a key factor in that heavy defeat.

Although no longer captain, Thiago Silva was again an important player for Brazil as they lifted the Copa America at the Maracana in 2019, and he was reinstated as skipper for their next international tournament - another Copa America on home soil in 2021. Brazil kept three clean sheets and conceded just one goal with a 100 per cent record across the four matches Thiago Silva played in en route to the final, having been rested for two group matches, but he was unable to prevent his country suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat to Argentina in the final.