Thiago Silva: "The trophy means a great deal to me"
-Kaka won the first Samba Gold trophy in 2008 here at Milanello. How do you feel today?
I am delighted. It is not easy to win this kind of personal award. To be voted the best Brazilian in Europe after three years here is very rewarding. I am especially happy because the past winners of the trophy include a player like Kaka, who was rewarded right here in the same place a few years ago.
-You topped the standings ahead of Barcelona's Daniel Alves and Porto striker Hulk. Do you have anything to say about that?
They are two great players with very different characteristics. Hulk is a very powerful forward, but with lots of technical quality. He scores a lot of goals! I am very happy that he is now in the Brazil side. Daniel is one of the best full-backs in the world, who plays in what I believe is the best team in the world. I am quite pleased to have beaten them, although I am certain they are happy for me, that I have won this trophy.
-What does this prize mean for you?
The trophy means a great deal to me. I did not expect to win the title. I learned of my nomination on a Brazilian website and knew that it was between me, Daniel Alves and Hulk. Then, a week later, I found out that I had won in the end. I immediately messaged Daniel to congratulate him and he was happy for me.
-You are now considered one of the best defenders in the world. Did you imagine such success at the start of your career?
No, it is something that came naturally through a lot of hard work. I learned a lot from Paolo Maldini who tutored me on defensive positioning and the importance of tactical discipline.
-You came into a Milan shirt three years ago. How do you assess your meteoric rise in this time?
I did not expect progress so quickly. I expected something a bit slower. I learned a lot from watching the great players here, improving both physically and tactically.
-What about the interest of Barcelona?
I have extended my contract at Milan because I feel good here. For the moment I want to see out my contract, but no-one knows what the future holds. For the moment, my priority is to win the Champions League this year.
-How did you feel when wearing the captain's armband for the first-time against Chievo?
It was an unbelievable feeling, it is difficult to describe. Allegri discussed it with me just before the meeting and I accepted the armband, even though I was not the most experienced player on the pitch. But, I would have no problem giving the armband to Pato or Ambrosini.
-Which players inspired you most in your position as a central defender?
When I was at Juventude and Fluminense, Carlos Gamarra was my idol. Later, I learned a lot from Juan with the National Team. He plays with serenity and he respects the ball.
-How is your relationship with Philippe Mexes? They say he has a strong personality!
Philippe is a great guy! He makes us laugh before matches and in training. He always has some funny word to say, he is like a Brazilian!
-What did you think of Leonardo as coach? Do you prefer Allegri?
They are two very young coaches. At Milan, Leonardo did not truly have a playing philosophy because it was his first job. Allegri has more experience. But, Leonardo all the same successfully qualified for the Champions League, even if the team was not that good.
-Mano Menezes has bestowed upon you the armband as the captain of Brazil. Is it a heavy burden to carry?
I think that a professional player should be responsible, whether he is the captain or not. But, it is true that the captain needs to have the respect of everybody, of all the players. I have tried to stay the same and impose my words in moments of difficulty. I learned a lot from Lucio, he has advised me many times. I try to transmit calmness to the group, above all in difficult times.
-What do you think of Mano Menezes' work so far? Is today's Brazil good enough to win a sixth World Cup?
For the moment, we are not ready to win, but we are progressing each time we meet-up and we are forming our identity. We have made great progress in the recent games, above all against Mexico, where we beat the home-side 2-1 by dominating the match with only ten men.