Luisao has been a dependable back-up for Brazil's first-choice centre-back pairing since his international debut in 2003. Indeed, when either Lucio or Juan has been absent, the towering defender has often covered himself in glory.
One case in point is during the Copa America 2004. He played all six games in A Seleção's triumphant campaign, and scored a goal in the final against Argentina, which ended 2-2 before Brazil won out on penalties. He grabbed yet another decisive goal against the Argentineans during the South Africa 2010 qualifying match in Rosario that secured the Brazilians’ FIFA World Cup berth with a 3-1 win.
Luisao made Carlos Alberto Parreira's squads for the FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany 2006™, although he was left on the bench. However, he has enjoyed more action under Dunga's rule and has again proved to be a reliable back up as he replaced injured Juan during the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009.
Although he began his career with Paulista side Juventus in 1999, Luisao, older brother to São Paulo FC defender Alex Silva, made his name with Cruzeiro. A rock at the heart of their defence and a scorer of an impressive number of goals from corner-kicks, he helped A Raposa win two Copa do Brasil crowns and a Campeonato Mineiro before a 2003 switch to Benfica.
Despite offers from Italian Serie A clubs, Luisao has stayed loyal to the Lisbon heavyweights. He played a decisive role in their league title success in 2005, and in January 2010 was voted the team’s player of the previous year by the Benfica fans.