“Look at him, our very own Mother Teresa of Calcutta. If he decided to run for the senate tomorrow, he’d get elected.”
David Luiz can do no wrong at the moment, as those words, uttered by a member of the Brazil team’s delegation, confirm. No sooner had he completed his barnstorming performance in Brazil’s quarter-final defeat of Colombia at the Arena Castelao last Friday, during which he ran more than eight kilometres, than the centre-half sportingly asked the stadium to rise and applaud Cafetero playmaker James Rodriguez.
After then playing his part in ensuring that one of the match balls found its way into the Brazil dressing room so that it could be autographed by the players, he continued his post-match tour de force, making his way to the mixed zone, where he gave no fewer than eight straight interviews, two of them in English, attending to each interviewer’s needs with perfect good grace.
In between times, still wearing his sweat-drenched kit, he shared smiles and congratulatory pats on the back with volunteers, security guards and anyone else who just happened to be in the area. Unmistakably one of the faces of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, the convivial David also found time for a chat with FIFA, during which he once again showed his common touch and selflessness.
The whole world knows what he has to offer on the pitch but as his team-mates, we also know what a great person he is too.
“If there’s something I’ve always dreamed about and which I’ve always tried to show people, it’s that we’re all the same in this life, that everyone deserves respect and that we’re all equal,” he began by saying, revealing sentiments that would not be out of place in a Nobel Peace Prize winner’s acceptance speech.
It is clear just from watching him speak that the centre-half means what he says. Confirmation of his inner qualities came, if it were needed, from one of his appreciative team-mates. “He’s just the best,” said Hulk, in conversation with FIFA.com. “He’s very caring and very attentive, no matter who he’s with. It’s not every day that you come across someone like him.
“The whole world knows what he has to offer on the pitch – and to my mind, he and Thiago (Silva)* *are the best central-defensive partnership in the world – but as his team-mates, we also know what a great person he is too.”
A rallying cry
And that is where Brazil can consider themselves fortunate. Not only is David Luiz a great person to have around, he also happens to be one of the finest centre-halves on the planet and one of the outstanding performers at this World Cup.
David’s contribution at the other end of the pitch has also been considerable, the centre-back scoring two of his side’s three goals in the knockout rounds, including the stunning free-kick that sank the Colombians in the last eight and helped him earn the Budweiser Man of the Match award.
“It was great to see,” continued the admiring Hulk. “Obviously we all celebrated the goal as a team but we were delighted to see a guy like David scoring again. He really let himself go in his celebration too, which fired us all up.”
David Luiz is not just firing up the team, but the whole country. He will be doing that again on a formal basis in Tuesday’s semi-final against Germany when, in the absence of the injured Neymar and the suspended Thiago, he will don the captain’s armband, not that he needs to wear anything to be a leader of men.
“This team is very easy to handle because everyone’s very down to earth. It won’t be a tough job at all,” David commented, though there is definitely a case for saying that both the team and the country are more than willing to follow the example set by the inspirational defender.
There can be no other explanation for the collective release of emotion triggered by his euphoric celebration of that goal against the Colombians, a celebration that began with a scream of delight and continued with a frantic sprint towards the fans, complete with a flying kick aimed at the corner flag.
Those scenes reflected David’s ability to gauge the mood and set the tone in every situation, qualities that have led to him becoming Brazil’s undisputed man of the people.