The confident superstars who effortlessly shine on the biggest stage at the CONMEBOL Copa América can at times appear beyond the day to day struggles of fans across the continent. Despite appearances, many players have made incredible sacrifices and suffered true hardship on their journey to the top.
Few have overcome more challenges at their start of their career than the great Brazilian defender Thiago Silva.
Before shining at Fluminense, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, the Río de Janeiro native had a traumatic experience in European football that few are aware of.
The defender played for RS Futebol Clube before he was picked up by Juventude in the South of Brazil and then made his big move across to Porto.
In Portugal he was unable to break into the first team and was transfered to Dynamo in Moscow. It was in Russia where he received some devastating news; Thiago Silva was diagnosed with a severe case of tuberculosis and was advised to undertake surgery that would remove an area of his lung. This would put his footballing career at risk.
Fortunately, the story of Thiago Silva ulitamtely had a happy ending. He returned to Brazil with Fluminense and became and idol for the Rio club. His incredible performance as defensive leader of the side took them all the way to the 2008 Copa Libertadores final and he soon returned to Europe with AC Milan.
In Italy he won the league title and then moved to Paris-Saint German were he would win the league three times. Last season he moved to another European giant and won the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea.
Now at 36 years of age, Thiago Silva has over a decade of experience as a key man at the heart of the Brazilian defense and is a key man for boss Tite.
The defender has expressed his respect for the CONMEBOL Copa América, a competition he will be looking to retain after a 2019 win. “We have to respect the institution – CONMEBOL – which, in my opinion, has tried to do so much in a short period of time. I think we have to respect the effort and everything they have done so we can hold this Copa America”, he explained in the last few hours.
Before Brazil’s big quarterfinal game against Chile, the defender added “I think CONMEBOL has done everything possible to provide good stadiums, good pitches. I have no doubt they have worked thier hardest to have the best conditions”.