TB almost ruined my career when I was 21
THIAGO RECALLS DARK DAYS OF DIAGNOSIS
CHELSEA V BARNSLEY 7.45PM
THIAGO SILVA admits his mind went back to the time his career was almost ended by tuberculosis at the age of 21 as he completed his move to Chelsea.
The Brazil defender celebrated his 36th birthday by preparing to make his debut for the Blues against Barnsley at Stamford Bridge tonight.
And however successful his mission to crack England is after enjoying spells in Italy and France, he is already a “champion” just by getting here.
“TB was one of the worst experiences in my life,” he said.
“I think about it a lot at these moments – what I have been through. Thankfully I had the strength to overcome it.
“Although it is difficult to talk about it because it brings back these memories. I remember my last day in hospital. The doctor told me I had not been cured, I needed an operation on my lung and my football career would be finished.
“I feel very grateful to my family and my wife – at the time she was my girlfriend, just 17 – who was very supportive and gave me the strength to get over it so that I was able then to chase my dreams again.
“Now I can say today that I am a champion not just in football, but also in life.”
It was his wife Isabelle and his mother who persuaded Thiago not to have part of his lung removed after he was diagnosed with the illness during a loan stint with Dynamo Moscow in 2005.
Thiago went on to captain his country and still hopes to take them to the World Cup in 2022 at the age of 38.
He is having English lessons five days a week to help him fulfil the role he was recruited by Chelsea to perform.
With so many young talents in and around the squad, manager Frank Lampard wants somebody who can be his leader on the pitch.
“I would like to send a message to the young people to tell them to really make the most of their lives,” said Thiago.
“If somebody is playing, they should dedicate themselves to football. To pull on a Chelsea shirt is an immense responsibility and a great source of pride.”
Edouard Mendy is on the verge of a £ 22million move to Chelsea after Lampard told technical director Petr Cech to identify the goalkeeper best able to match his own title- winning ability.
Rennes and Senegal keeper Mendy had a medical yesterday, with first- choice Kepa Arrizabalaga coming under increasing pressure for his place.
“Every goalkeeper has a journey,” said Lampard. “Petr ends up as a young lad here from Ligue 1 in France and created his own story through hard work and quality.”