Central defender Thiago Silva possesses the physical presence of a top-class defender, and the technique of a skilful attacker. His day job is to break up opposition attacks, but he is well known for his dribbling, shooting, ability to bring the ball out of defence and tendency to make telling contributions going forward.
He began his career with Juventude, with whom he enjoyed an outstanding debut season in the Brasileirao at the tender age of 19. He appeared on the radar of several European clubs, and it was Porto who snapped him up. But things did not go well initially for the young defender, as the move to Portugal, and the change in climate, brought on respiratory problems. The following season, he was loaned out to Dinamo Moscow, but the cold Russian weather did nothing to help clear up his health problems, and the Brazilian contracted tuberculosis, spending four months in hospital.
Salvation came in the form of Rio de Janeiro club Fluminense. Silva returned to Brazil in 2006 and his career took off. He was one of the first names on the Fluminense team-sheet, helping his new team to the Copa do Brasil in 2007, and playing a significant part in helping them to runners-up spot in the Copa Libertadores the following year.
His upturn in form and fortune soon caught the eye of Dunga, who called him up for the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008 as an over-age player, although an injury before the tournament limited his involvement to two games.
However, by now, he was a regular in Dunga’s squads, and in 2008 he returned to Europe, this time in the colours of Serie A giants AC Milan. Although he was initially unable to play, as his new team already had the permitted number of non-EU players, Thiago Silva finally forced his way into the starting XI halfway through 2009.
A lack of competitive action had led to him losing his place in the national team, but Dunga kept him in mind, and last November called him up for two friendly games after Benfica centre-back Luisao dropped out through injury. He went on to play in Brazil’s most recent friendly in March, against Republic of Ireland. In South Africa, his opportunities may be limited, but he will be a dependable understudy to the established defensive duo of Lucio and Juan and the experience will undoubtedly be hugely beneficial for his future development.