Born in Rio de Janeiro, Thiago Silva showcased his talent in Fluminense’s youth teams before suffering the disappointment of being released by the club closest to his heart. After a battle for first-team football at a couple of less glamorous clubs, he was finally given his big break by Juventude, based in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

 

Playing in the 2004 Brazilian championship, he turned in some impressive performances, and it was on the back of those displays that the 6’0-tall central defender earned a move to Porto. Sadly, injury and health problems led to him being loaned out to Dynamo Moscow, where further ailments, including a bout of tuberculosis in 2005, prevented him from maintaining full fitness. The following year he was back home in Brazil.

 

As fate would have it his destination was Fluminense, the club that had rejected him years earlier. Quickly winning the fans over with a superb run of form and picking up the nickname Monstro, he helped Flu lift the Copa do Brasil in 2007 and finish Copa Libertadores runners-up a year later.

 

Returning to Europe, he signed for Milan and won the Italian title with them in 2011 and finished a Serie A runner-up the following season. In doing so in became recognised as one of world’s finest centre-halves.

 

So far had Silva’s stock risen in fact that he is seen as a near-certainty to represent Brazil at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and to wear the captain’s armband.

 

Considering that prospect in conversation with FIFA.com, he said: “I’m always thinking about it. In fact, I started thinking about it when I was first called up by Mano [Menezes, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s predecessor as Brazil coach] for a friendly against USA. That armband helps remind me of everything I’ve been through to get this far, and you can be sure that I’ll do it as much justice as I possibly can.”