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Thiago Silva: Winner of the Samba Gold trophy 2011

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The rock at the heart of the AC Milan defence has been voted the best Brazilian player in Europe of this year.

For the second year in a row, the Samba Gold trophy is heading for Italian shores. In fact, for the third time in its four-year existance, it is heading for the city of Milan, following Kaká's win in 2008 and Inter Milan player Maicon emerging victorious in 2010. Thiago Silva now wins his first Samba Gold trophy and the first to be given to a central defender.

The panel was divided three ways, composed of Sambafoot readers, specialists in the world of football and former-players of the Brazilian national team and from their votes, Thiago Silva was ultimately crowned champion. 

'O monstro', or 'The Monster', as he became known in his time at Fluminense may have an ugly-sounding nickname, but his game is one of beauty. It is a style of play full of competitiveness and will, that when added to his natural skill and gracefulness, has taken Thiago Silva to the top of the game. The winner of the 2011 Samba Gold trophy is a fine achievement, but beyond that Thiago Silva is considered by many to be one of the finest, if not the finest, centre-back in world football.

A near perfect 2011 carries Thiago Silva to the Samba Gold trophy

If 2010 was good for Thiago Silva, 2011 was even better. The Milan star shone brightly in the second-half of the glorious 2010/11 Serie A campaign, guiding his side to a well-deserved league title. It was the first title in seven years for the Milanese and the number 33, Thiago Silva, was at the heart of it, playing no less than 39 games for the Rossoneri that season and earning only a solitary yellow card. Crucially, Thiago Silva commanded the best defence in the league and it was on the back of this defensive solidity that Milan claimed the Scudetto. 

There was to be no time-off for the defender this summer, as he was summoned to the Copa América by coach Mano Menezes to partner the experienced Lúcio. He was part of the failure, playing whilst carrying an injury in the fateful Quarter-Final with Paraguay, yet he has emerged unscathed from the wreckage in Argentina. He has continued to be selected at each opportunity and there looks to be little risk of Thiago Silva losing his first-choice slot for Brazil. Indeed, in the recent friendly with Egypt, the defender was named captain of Brazil for the first time. 

On his return to Milan came immediate success. As expected, Thiago Silva was in the side as Milan beat city rivals Inter 2-0 to claim the Italian Super Cup in August, in a game played in Beijing.

In the Champions League, Milan were drawn alongside Barcelona, but qualified with ease to the next stage. Thiago even got on the scoresheet, with the final goal in Milan's 2-2 draw with last year's champions from Spain.

In terms of this campaign, Milan are joint-leaders of the Serie A table, alongside Juventus, and Thiago Silva has been key once more. So key in fact that he was made captain of AC Milan against Chievo in late November, the first time he had been awarded the honour. 

Finishing the year with a flourish, Thiago Silva has been named the winner of the Samba Gold trophy 2011.

The Public Vote, The Experts and The Former-Players

Amongst the former players of the Seleção, Thiago Silva was almost unanimously voted one of the top three Brazilians currently in Europe. For three of them, Thiago Silva was the clear number one. 

- He is one of the best centre-backs in the world. He is technical, strong and has a great positional sense that makes his one of the best in his position in the world. – Taffarel

- He's a great defender, who for now has no equivalent in his position. He will certainly be present at the 2014 World Cup. – Branco

- He will certainly be one of the two centre backs playing for the Selecão at the 2014 World Cup. He's established himself in the team and would make a perfect captain for 2014. His position on the pitch, where he can talk with team-mates makes him the ideal captain for us. – Carlos Alberto Torres. 

Amongst the journalists and specialists, Thiago Silva also did well. Five of the eleven placed Thiago Silva in their top three positions and two, Tino Marcos and Tim Vickery, elected the Milan defender as the best of the nominees this year.

- He is becoming a benchmark worldwide for the role of a centre-back – said Tim Vickery, South-American football correspondent for the BBC and Sambafoot columnist. 

The Final Result

1 - Thiago Silva – defender - Milan 

2 - Daniel Alves – full-back - Barcelona 

3 - Hulk – forward - Porto


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