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Willian reveals his secrets to being the quintessential modern, two-way playmaker

I adore this picture.
I adore this picture.
Ian Walton/Getty Images

There is no talk of free kicks in Willian's interview with FourFourTwo.  We already know the secret there.  Practice, practice, and more practice.  And then some more practice.  And probably some pixie dust.  And then practice.  Practice, practice, practice.  Practice.  Yes, I'm talking about practice.

Willian does talk a bit about some of the other factors that have made him such an key part of Chelsea over the past few seasons.  Factors such as...

...staying strong and avoiding injury

"I focus more on core exercises - they help me improve my explosiveness. At least once or twice a week, I work on my core strength in the gym. This involves exercises that concentrate on the abdominal muscles, hips and lumbar spine. With a stronger core, you become much harder to knock off the ball and you reduce your risk of injury."

...playing physically smart

"When your team is well organised on the pitch, you don't need to waste energy. In Brazil we call this ‘running wrongly'. When the team is not compact, you end up running more, inefficiently, and you'll tire yourself out much sooner. Experienced players know when to press, attack, defend and conserve energy."

...playing tactically smart

"Under Jose Mourinho, I have improved tactically. I'm a better player defensively, knowing when to mark and press. I understand the importance of squeezing the space and forcing an opponent into making a mistake. English football is much more physical - referees don't see every contact as a foul. Looking back to when I first arrived in England, I think I can now read the game better. I can identify when it's time to dribble or when it's time to pass to a team-mate quickly."

...playing for the team

"Football has changed a lot. Nowadays, a playmaker can't just play with the ball. The role of an attacking player comes with a lot more responsibility. You must be willing to work hard, help out defensively and know how to play on both wings. You need to be a versatile player in order to succeed at the top. The best playmakers can do everything: they understand tactics, they're good in possession, they can finish and they're also in very good physical condition."

Willian also talks about the importance of rest and recovery, his distaste for ice baths, and eating a balanced diet.  You may not become as good at football as he is just by reading his interview, but you might just appreciate him a bit more.

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