Thiago Silva's start in football was inauspicious to say the least. An unremarkable holding midfielder, he was briefly at Fluminense before being pushed out aged 15.

He failed trials at nearly every club in Rio before building himself up from the semi-professional game to signing for top tier Juventude at 20 years old.

It would be here that manager Ivo Wortmann would finally recognise his potential as a defender, pairing him with future Bundesliga legend Naldo at the back. He quickly became the hottest defensive prospect in Brazilian football and was snapped up after just a single season by Porto.



But there was one problem - it was clear soon after he arrived that he in no way had what it took to make it at the club. Porto had bought a young man who had looked capable of dominating games and now he could hardly challenge for a ball.

He complained to the medical staff that he felt off but they repeatedly found nothing. Porto’s patience ran out and he was shipped off to Dynamo Moscow on loan, joining up with former coach Wortmann - it was a move that would end up saving his life.



Upon Silva’s arrival, Wortmann knew something was very wrong. The young man in front of him was barely recognisable.

In all, Thiago Silva spent almost a year in a Russian hospital recovering from the undiagnosed Tuberculosis that had ravaged him for months. He was so ready for his ordeal to end that it was only at the interjection of his mother that he didn’t go through with a career-ending procedure to remove part of his lung.


Thiago at Porto


As it was he eventually recovered and again Wortmann would be there. Having moved to Fluminense he was adamant that despite his health issues he wanted Thiago Silva there with him. 



Seven years after being pushed out as a youth, Silva dominated in three years at Fluminense, earning his first international call up and a high profile move to Milan that eventually cemented his status as a superstar.


Words by Andy Gallagher





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