Brazil’s Thiago Silva back to his best

first_img BATTLE WITH ILLNESS KAZAN, Russia (AP): Four years after Brazil’s humiliation at its home World Cup, Thiago Silva is back to his best in Russia, a country where his then-burgeoning career was almost tragically cut short years ago. The 33-year-old Brazil centre back – who is nicknamed “O Monstro” for his exceptional physical abilities – is probably playing in his final World Cup, and he has been enjoying a perfect tournament so far. While forward Neymar attracted negative comments for his antics on the field, Silva has been irreproachable. The captain arguably has been the best centre back of the tournament, alongside Uruguay captain Diego Godin. Like Uruguay, Brazil have conceded only one goal in Russia so far from a set piece in its opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland. And the Selecao’s rivals have managed only five shots on target in their four matches against the five-time champions. Silva has been playing a key role in helping Brazil achieve those impressive statistics, anchoring the defence with authority and class. During the 2-0 win against Mexico that guaranteed Brazil advanced to the quarterfinals for the seventh consecutive time, Silva was decisive both in the air and on the ground, blocked several shots, and made two clearances. “It’s a huge joy to be doing an excellent cup and to be growing with every game,” Silva said. “I’m happy about my performance and the performance of the team.” Happiness and joy have been hard to come by during some stretches of Silva’s career. The native of Rio de Janeiro went through hard times after Brazil’s 7-1 loss to Germany at the last World Cup. Silva did not play in that game because he was suspended, but he was harshly criticised and branded a crybaby for his emotional outbursts as he was pictured in tears before a penalty shoot-out against Chile in the round of 16. After the tournament, he was stripped of the team’s captaincy by new coach Dunga then left off the regular roster after the 2015 Copa AmÈrica. He returned from exile in September 2016 for World Cup qualifiers after being called up by Dunga’s successor, Tite. Those professional ups and downs are nothing compared to the ordeal Silva went through back in 2005, when he spent about six months in a Moscow hospital after he contracted tuberculosis. Regarded at the time as one of the world’s most promising defenders, Silva had been sent on loan from Porto to Dynamo Moscow alongside several teammates. “It was probably the worst episode of my life,” Silva said. It was during a training camp in Portugal that doctor Yuri Vassilkov, who had travelled along with the team, noticed that Silva had a persistent cough. “He had a temperature and we thought it was a simple cold,” Vassilkov said in an interview with L’Equipe newspaper this week. “I gave him some medication, but he did not improve. I was a bit worried, and I sent him for exams at the British hospital in Lisbon. The diagnosis was terrible: tuberculosis. It was a shock.” Vassilkov believes that the diagnosis was so late that Silva was weeks away from dying. Silva was brought back to Moscow where he was hospitalised in a centre specialising in tuberculosis treatment. At the time, Silva did not speak English or Russian and went through a bout of depression. “The cold, the lack of natural light, the fact that I could not speak to anybody … All this was very difficult to handle,” Silva remembered in an interview with Belgian Sport/Foot magazine. After Russian doctors at one point considered removing part of his lungs, Silva survived and fully recovered. He never played a game for Dynamo, and these painful events are just bad memories now. AGE – 33 HEIGHT – 1.83m APPEARANCES – 75 GOALS – 6 NUMBER – 2last_img read more

Watch: Australia practice in Johannesburg after Steve Smith’s emotional apology

first_imgAustralia got down to practice at the New Wanderers ahead of the fourth and final Test of the series versus South Africa in Johannesburg on what could be described as a sad day for Australian cricket.On Thursday, Australians and people over the world saw the trio of Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and Darren Lehmann address the media teary eyed and apologise for their actions. While Smith broke down in the middle of the presser on his arrival at Sydney, Bancroft was also a sad man while speaking to the media from the WACA.(David Warner arrives in Sydney but refuses to speak on ball-tampering scandal)”I don’t blame anyone. I’m the captain of the Australian team. It’s on my watch and I take responsibility for what happened last Saturday. It hurts…I’m deeply sorry. I love the game of cricket. I love entertaining young kids…I just want to say sorry for the pain I’ve brought to Australia, to the fans and the public,” said a broken Smith.WATCH”I lied. I lied about the sandpaper. I panicked in that situation and I’m very sorry…I feel like I’ve let everyone down in Australia. All I can do is ask for forgiveness…I will do my best to contribute to the community.,” Bancroft told the media at the WACA in Perth, shortly after his arrival from Johannesburg.(Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson devastated after Steve Smith breaks down)”The thing that breaks my heart the most is that I’ve given up my spot in the team for free. People know I worked so hard to get to this point in my career and to have given up that chance for free is devastating,” he went on to add.advertisementPlayers v support staff fielding drill!- Brad Haddin- Darren Lehmann so close! (@CricketAus) March 29, 2018But, what will hurt the Baggie Greens the most currently, is that coach Lehmann decided to step down from his post after the fourth Test ends. Boof addressed the media and said that seeing Smith and Bancroft go through this, he feels it’s the right time to step down.(Steve Smith’s tearful apology for ball-tampering: It hurts and I am deeply sorry)”I just want to let you know this will be by my last Test as head coach if the Australian cricket team as I’m stepping down, said Lehmann, reading from a prepared statement.”After seeing events in the media today with Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, the feeling is that Australian cricket needs to move forward and this is the right thing to do.”I really felt for Steve, as I saw him crying in front of the media, and all the players are really hurting.(Ball-tampering row: Steve Smith consoled by father as he breaks down during press conference)Forgetting everything now, Australia must overcome significant batting changes at the top of their order and the shame of a ball-tampering scandal if they are to avoid another piece of unwanted history against South Africa in the fourth Test at The Wanderers starting on Friday.Maxi! #SAvAUS (@CricketAus) March 29, 2018The match is the last in what has been a tempestuous series, with South Africa leading 2-1 following their emphatic, and now infamous, 322-run victory in Cape Town, a game that will forever be remembered for an audacious attempted cheat by their opponents.South Africa are seeking a first home series win over the Australians since 1970 and will be heavy favourites as they take their settled squad into the fixture against a touring side in chaos.Former Australian captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have all been sent home in disgrace for their roles in the tampering scandal, replaced by openers Matthew Renshaw and Joe Burns, and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.Glenn Maxwell rolling the arm over to Shaun Marsh in the Wanderers nets #SAvAUS (@CricketAus) March 29, 2018Joe Burns back in the Test squad and facing up to some Starc heat #SAvAUS (@CricketAus) March 29, 2018The extraordinary elevation of wicketkeeper Tim Paine as the team’s 46th Test captain is a remarkable tale, even considering the circumstances, having last year considered quitting the game after finding himself out of the Tasmania side.Paine is aware of the fact that the fourth Test will not just be about how the Australian team perform, but how their behaviour is viewed by the watching world as they look to put the recent scandal behind them.advertisement”The one positive that may come of it is guys are going to get an opportunity to play for their country,” Paine told reporters.”The whole opportunity for us going forward now is something we can learn from and something we can try to control (is) how we are seen going forward by our Australian public, and become the team that we want to become and they want us to be seen as.”ALSO WATCH:last_img read more