Thiago Silva celebrated his 36th birthday just a few weeks into his tenure as a Chelsea player, confirming that he was indeed much closer in age to the manager and his assistant (both 42 as of today) than most of his new teammates (mid-20s on average).
Even as a world class player, that’s an age that will give pause when considering that Silva moved from the most dominant team in a much easier French league to an ambitious but still work-in-progress side in the much more competitive Premier League at such a late stage in his career.
Lampard himself remembers being a 36-year-old in the Premier League, when he was no longer able to apply himself to the same degree of success and effectiveness as throughout his illustrious career. He feared that could be the case with Thiago as well.
We never give up, we are Chelsea FC— Thiago Silva (@tsilva3) December 21, 2020
As it turns out, those fears were unfounded.
“I remember playing in the Premier League at 36 and I could not play like he is playing week in and week out. I was in and out of the team and I could feel it at that stage in my career. So what I would say is that I was probably a bit tentative.”
“I knew he was a top player who had been a great player for a long time but with the pressures of the Premier League when you have not played there before and been playing in France, no disrespect, he has probably exceeded it slightly.”
John Terry was 36 when his Chelsea career ended, and he dropped down to the second division for a season. Didier Drogba had just turned 37 when he called it quits at the Bridge (for the second time), and moved to America to play in MLS. It was at the same age that Lampard did so as well.
Perhaps Thiago’s path will take a similar shape next summer. He’s already talked about eventually going back to where it all started for him, at Fluminense, but he’s also quite focused on making the Brazil squad for the 2022 World Cup, coming up in 24 months.
Given what we’ve seen so far, would anyone bet against him doing so? Lampard probably wouldn’t.
“Really, I should not have been surprised. Now I am working with him, I can see the quality, the preparation, the reading of the game, the desire to win headers and compete with anyone he is playing against.
“He is really studious about the game and he is clearly going to be a manager or whatever he wants to be after he finishes playing. He has been a great addition for us on and off the pitch.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Sky Sports
No player is perfect, and Thiago has had a couple hiccups since his arrival. And he has had to be rested a couple times as well. But when he is on, as it was very much the case against West Ham last night, he is a rock-solid presence at the back who makes everyone else around him much better as well.
Long may it last!