A teenage Gilberto Silva quit football to work in a candy factory. Brazilian football supporters are mightily grateful he was tempted to give the sport another taste, for the defensive midfielder performed a crucial function as A Seleção won the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan and the FIFA Confederations Cups in 2005 and 2009 and captained the side to glory at the Copa America 2007.
Born in Lagoa da Prata in 1976, Gilberto Silva joined America Mineiro as a youth but left the club in search of financial stability. However, at the age of 21, he was talked into returning to O Coelho, whom he helped win the Brazilian Serie B in 1997.
Gilberto Silva joined regional giants Atletico Mineiro in 2000, and largely thanks to Carlos Alberto Parreira's decision to convert him from a centre-back to a holding midfielder, the muscular, 1.85m player performed to such distinction that he was called into the Brazil squad and made his international debut in October 2001, less than eight months before the start of the 17th edition of the FIFA World Cup™.
Because of an injury to first-choice defensive midfielder Emerson, Gilberto Silva went on to play every minute of Brazil's triumphant Korea/Japan 2002 campaign. He also earned rave reviews for his impregnable guard of the defence, rare relinquishment of possession and success at not conceding free-kicks.
Arsenal signed ‘The Invisible Wall' following the 2002 finals, and he went on to enjoy six highly profitable years with the London giants, winning two FA Cups and one English Premier League title before joining Panathinaikos in July 2008.
Gilberto Silva was a regular in Dunga's Brazil side during their South Africa 2010 qualifying campaign and his solid performance as Brazil claimed the FIFA Confederations Cup last has him standing out as one of the leaders of the Seleção.