Thiago Silva has credited Paolo Maldini for making him the player that he is today.
The 39-year-old Chelsea centre-back joined AC Milan in the summer following Maldini’s retirement. Silva was subsequently earmarked as his long-term successor but the Brazilian international would only remain in in Lombardy for three seasons before joining Paris Saint-Germain where he enjoyed untold successes.
Now playing in his fourth year at the Blues, many are wondering how long he’s got left playing at the highest level. Silva recently conceded the day he will call it quits is approaching but feels getting this far wouldn’t have been possible if not for spending time around the legendary Italian.
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“Meeting Maldini sparked something in me. I was 24 when I arrived and looking at him made me think: ‘The way I look after myself – I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t miss my sleep – means I can reach Maldini’s level. Age level I mean of course, not performance level. There is only one Maldini,” he said in a Guardian interview.
“He certainly changed my mentality. Not just him, but Alessandro Nesta as well. Nesta was a teacher for me in training. He had just come back from an operation, which made it a bit difficult for him, but he had me who could run around and help him. He told me where to go and I’d go. I did it with great pleasure because I always liked his way of being, his way of training and especially his quality. I realised that by playing with him I was going to learn a lot.”
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In a recent meeting with Brentford, the Rio de Janeiro native started his 87th Premier League game, all of which coming aged 36 and over, which is the most by an outfielder in competition history. Furthermore, he’s the oldest outfield player in England’s top division.
Always thinking ahead Silva is already preparing for life after playing football with a move into coaching something he’s keen to achieve. “On the pitch I’m already a bit of a manager, right?” he added.
“As I watch the game from the back, I see a lot of situations. And then I warn [the others] about certain situations. I talk to the staff, to [Mauricio] Pochettino, so that we don’t make mistakes. Sometimes, only us on the pitch realise what’s wrong and what could be done better. And there are situations that those who are off the pitch, with a clear mind, see much better. This relationship is important.”