Thiago Silva agrees his return to Fluminense

Thiago Silva

Thiago Silva made his mark in Europe and returns to Fluminense, the club that introduced him to the world after 16 seasons.

Thiago Silva has solidified himself as one of the greatest defenders of his generation, winning numerous titles and earning the affection of fans from all the teams he played for.

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Thiago Silva’s Career

Thiago Silva developed his skills at Fluminense, where he spent his formative years from 11 to 18, but his first professional game was for Pedrabranca, then known as RS Futebol Clube, in 2003.

In 2004, he played in the Serie A for Juventude, having a remarkable season, finishing 7th in the Brasileirão, led by Ivo Wortmann. For many, 2004 was marked as Juventude’s best defense of all time, with Índio, Naldo, and Thiago Silva, who was named the third-best Brazilian defender of the year by Placar magazine.

In September 2004, he transferred to Porto but struggled to adapt and only played for Porto B. Due to injuries and limited opportunities, he was loaned to Dynamo Moscow in Russia in January 2005, where he faced the biggest challenge of his career and life. Initially, he thought he had the flu, but after some training sessions in Russia, his symptoms worsened, and he even had difficulty breathing in daily life.

Diagnosed with Tuberculosis

At just 21, Thiago Silva was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2005 at Dynamo Moscow, but it’s believed he contracted the disease in 2004 while still at Porto B.

He was hospitalized in Moscow in very poor conditions for four months, living in a 10-square-meter room where he could barely move. Belle Silva, his wife, recounted in an interview: “In the middle of the process, in Moscow, they said they couldn’t do anything and would have to remove part of his lung in surgery.”

Ivo Wortmann, who coached Thiago at Juventude, was hired by Dynamo Moscow and played a crucial role in the recovery of both the player’s health and career. Upon arriving in Russia, he arranged for a specialist from Portugal to treat the player.

Due to the possibility of having to remove his lung, which would end Thiago Silva’s career, Ivo Wortmann decided to act. “I thought to myself: ‘something’s wrong here, nowadays nobody dies of tuberculosis.’ I told him I was going to speak to Tonietto to urgently contact Jorge Mendes and that we were going to take him to Portugal or Brazil. He couldn’t have this surgery because nobody plays football without a lung!”

Thiago Silva returned to Portugal for treatment and managed to recover from tuberculosis, but there was a certain fear whether the defender would return to playing at a high level. Belle Silva said, “Even so, we didn’t believe he would be able to play professionally again. But Ivo Wortmann (his former coach at Juventude) had given him a chance before, and he did it again at Fluminense. That’s where we started over.”

Thiago Silva - Camapanha Tuberculose

First Steps at Fluminense

In 2006, Ivo Wortmann, then coach of Fluminense, requested the signing of Thiago Silva, who returned to Fluminense to make history.

In his debut year, he was one of the few highlights of the team that fought against relegation until the final rounds of the Brasileirão, and reached the semifinals of the Copa do Brasil that season. He played 48 matches that year, all as a starter.

In 2007, he experienced a year that will never be forgotten. Fluminense won their first and, to this day, only Copa do Brasil title and finished 4th in the Brasileirão, a tournament in which Thiago Silva was awarded the individual prize ‘Bola de Prata’ as the best defender by ‘Placar’ magazine. That year, he played 51 games, scoring 9 goals.

In 2008, the Tricolor das Laranjeiras reached the final of the Libertadores but were defeated by LDU in an epic match. After losing 4-2 in the altitude of Quito, Fluminense had the difficult task of reversing the score at Maracanã. With just 6 minutes played, the Ecuadorians opened the scoring, but Fluminense scored 3 goals with Thiago Neves and took the game to penalties. In a night inspired by goalkeeper Cevallos, Fluminense was defeated by LDU and finished as runners-up in the Libertadores.

It was in 2008 that he was called up for the Brazilian National Team for the first time, on May 23, by coach Dunga, two days after a historic qualification for Flu in the Libertadores, against São Paulo, at Maracanã.

In the Brasileirão, Thiago Silva was again voted the best defender of the competition, this time in the CBF awards, in addition to receiving the Craque da Galera award, through an online vote, in which he obtained 47% of the votes.

Amidst these magnificent years at Tricolor, Thiago Silva was signed by Milan in late 2008 for 10 million euros (approximately R$ 32.1 million at the time).

Thiago Silva pelo Fluminense — Foto: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Captain at Milan

At Milan, Thiago Silva made his debut in January 2009, in the friendly against Hannover, which ended in a 2-2 draw. The defender made his official debut in July, as Milan had already reached the limit of non-EU passport players during the 2008–09 season.

In his first season, Milan finished 3rd in the Italian Championship, with Thiago Silva being the mainstay of the defense. In the following season, Milan won the Scudetto and Thiago Silva was included in the league’s best XI.

In 2011, Milan won the Italian Super Cup with a 2-1 victory over Inter at the National Stadium in Beijing.

During his years at Milan, Thiago Silva made a significant contribution to the club’s success. He quickly became a favorite among the rossoneri fans, who admired him not only for his technical skills but also for his dedication and professionalism.

In November 2011, Thiago Silva wore the captain’s armband for the first time. In the match against Chievo, he opened the scoring in the 4-0 rout.

In July 2012, Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were sold by Milan to Paris Saint-Germain for a sum close to 65 million euros.

Thiago Silva Milan Chievo (Foto: Getty Images)

Photo: Getty Images

Ultimate Idol at PSG

In the French team, Thiago Silva became an idol from his early seasons, and within just 4 months, the defender had already been named captain.

Throughout the years, Thiago Silva was an undisputed starter for Paris Saint-Germain, demonstrating an impressive dominance in France. He won 7 French Championships, as well as numerous domestic cups.

PSG’s dominance in France didn’t match their European level in the Champions League. Often, PSG disappointed in the biggest competition in the world and achieved results below expectations.

In the historic comeback that Barcelona staged against PSG, losing 4-0 and winning 6-1 in 2017, Thiago Silva was present and recalls with great sadness: “We were not able to play our game. In the first play of the match, we had difficulty in bringing the ball out. In the second, we gave up possession and chose to play defensively. We are very ashamed.”

PSG’s best campaign in the Champions League was in 2020, when they were defeated by Bayern in the final, with a goal from Coman. It was Thiago Silva’s last match for PSG, as he wanted to continue, but had already been informed that his contract would not be renewed.

The defender made history at PSG and left his mark as one of the greatest players to wear the club’s shirt. He played in 315 matches, starting in 309, won 23 official titles, and was the player who wore the captain’s armband the most in PSG’s history.

Thiago Silva gol PSG Lorient (Foto: Reuters)

Photo: Reuters

World Champion with Chelsea

Thiago Silva transferred to Chelsea in August 2020 and in his first season, he won the long-awaited Champions League, defeating Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the final.

Another title missing from his gallery was that of world champion, which came against Palmeiras. In the final, Chelsea defeated Palmeiras 2-1 in the final minutes of extra time, with a penalty goal from Kai Havertz. Thiago Silva was awarded the best player of the tournament. With a great season, Thiago had his contract renewed until the end of the 2021–22 season.

Even at 38, Thiago Silva was still one of the best defenders in the world, combining his experience with tactical intelligence he had honed over the years. His peripheral vision and his ability to organize the defense were crucial for the solidity of the teams he played for.

He also influenced the improvement of the defender playing alongside him. A classic example is Marquinhos, who for many years was his teammate at PSG and in the Brazilian national team, experiencing his technical peak alongside the experienced Thiago Silva.

At Chelsea, the defender reached the finals of the English League Cup twice, being defeated on both occasions by Klopp’s Liverpool. In the FA Cup, he also came close twice, losing in the final to Leicester in the 2020–21 season and to Liverpool on penalties in the following season.

In March 2024, Thiago Silva received the news that his contract would not be renewed again. When Chelsea was defeated by Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinal, the defender broke down in tears, knowing it was his last chance for a title with the Blues.

Thiago Silva posa com o troféu do Mundial de Clubes — Foto: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Brazilian National Team

Thiago Silva built a beautiful story with the Brazilian National Team. He was called up for the 2010 World Cup but was a reserve behind Lúcio and Juan and did not play.

In late 2011, he assumed the captaincy of the team and formed the center-back partnership with David Luiz. At the 2012 Olympic Games, he was the captain of the team that won the silver medal.

In the Confederations Cup held in Brazil, Thiago Silva was the captain and defensive pillar. In the final, Brazil defeated Spain, the reigning world champions at the time, 3-0, with a stellar performance that will be remembered in history.

In the 2014 World Cup, Thiago Silva was absent from the humiliating 7-1 defeat against Germany, as he was suspended. However, the captain was heavily criticized for isolating himself from the rest of the squad, sitting on top of a ball, and crying before the penalty shootout in the round of 16 against Chile.

Nevertheless, Thiago Silva had a great World Cup and scored 1 goal in the 2-1 victory against Colombia in the quarter-finals.

In the 2018 World Cup, Tite used a rotation system for the captains, and Thiago wore the armband in 2 matches and started in all 5 of Brazil’s games in the competition, which ended with elimination in the quarter-finals against Belgium.

In 2019, Thiago Silva competed in the Copa America for the third time, winning his first title in the competition. He started in all six games of the competition, and Brazil became champions against Peru in the final, winning 3-1.

At the 2022 World Cup, the defender was already 38 years old, but age seemed not to matter, as he had an impeccable tournament, despite Brazil’s premature elimination, as they were considered one of the favorites to lift the trophy.

Thiago Silva na estreia do Brasil contra a Bolívia: ele vai ser novamente o capitão da Seleção — Foto: Luca Figueiredo / CBF

Photo: Luca Figueiredo / CBF

Thiago Silva made history wherever he went and now faces the challenge of doing even more for Fluminense. Throughout his years in Europe, the defender always remained one of the best in his position, being part of the Ballon d’Or team for several years.


Written by Henry Miller.

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Tags: International Market, Highlights

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