Football

Luiz looking on bright side of Chelsea life

Luiz is enjoying his time at Stamford Bridge. (©GettyImages)
Luiz is enjoying his time at Stamford Bridge. (©GettyImages).

David Luiz is certainly a different type of central defender to those that the Premier League has become most accustomed to - his buccaneering, off-the-cuff style of play has not been to everyone's taste.

Twelve months into his Chelsea career, the 24-year-old Brazilian international has split opinions right down the middle, with his bold, dynamic technique forcing him to endure as many criticisms as superlatives that have been thrown his way.

Luiz arrived in England with a big reputation following his £20million move from Benfica on transfer deadline day in January 2011 - tipped to become one of the best defenders in the world - because of his technical ability, anticipation, agility and speed.

Whilst Carlo Ancelotti is the man credited for bringing the South American stopper to Stamford Bridge, it’s clear that current Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas shares the same beliefs as his predecessor, having recently highlighted Luiz's undeniable potential.

"I think he's played fantastically since the start," the Portuguese tactician told Chelsea's official website. "You have to agree that there are misconceptions created from the start, since the player's arrival.

"Sometimes a player has to carry that stamp for the rest of his life. Just maybe, you got that impression with David. He's going to be one of the greatest central defenders in the world.

"There is a nature in a Premier League game that you have to adapt to - it's culturally different to other countries."

Key statistics seem to support Villas-Boas' viewpoint. Luiz is ranked among the top three per cent of Premier League defenders for successful interceptions, highlighting his adept positioning and reading of the game, while his passing in the defensive and middle thirds of the pitch both rank among the top five per cent, with around 90 per cent accuracy.

"I've been working in the same way as always, training at my best level," explained Luiz. "Sometimes you get criticism, like I did, and recently I have been applauded for my work. As long as I can go home and lay down on my bed and have my conscience clear that I am doing an honest job, I am happy.

"Nothing has changed in the team. We have been working hard, just like before, and the main thing is to continue working and maintaining the philosophy that the coach instructs. We have to do this, sometimes we are doing things that are great and not getting the results and sometimes we do things not so good and get the result.

"The main thing is to continue working hard and obviously we're not where we want to be at the moment, not fighting for first place, but we have to keep looking for victories and believe in ourselves until the end.

"There are games we have lost where we could have done better, but we can't change the past, we can only look to the future and know that we can do better and move up positions."

Luiz is a complex character, who to understand fully, it is worth investigating his background. Raised in the unforgiving Sao Paulo satellite town of Diadema, he left home at 14 after being told by his local club that he would never be big enough to be a footballer.

After moving 1,200 miles away to Esporte Club Vitoria on Brazil's north-east coast, the talented youngster was converted into a defender, and by the age of 18 he had already forced his way into the first-team, eventually earning himself a move to Benfica.

In his third season in Portugal, Luiz was voted the country's best player and it was at this point he started to attract interest from the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and, of course, Chelsea.

The big beaming grin, and mop of even bigger hair, that has become such a distinctive sight around west London for the past year only tells half the story. Despite the player's obvious sense of fun, there is a steely side to him too.

When quizzed about the increase in competition for places following the arrival of Gary Cahill from Bolton Wanderers last month, Luiz revealed how he is relishing the challenge that lies ahead, and says that the signing can only benefit the team both personally and collectively.

"I do know it's a good thing for Chelsea to have Gary Cahill," he added. "He is a great player who has come to help and seeing him in the changing room and on the pitch I know he is right for Chelsea and he will be a great help for the club."

There's a saying that works as Luiz's mantra for life. "God gave you teeth, not only to eat but to smile as well." - the frizzy-haired defender holds philosophies that portray maturity far beyond his years. Luiz is enjoying life in England, and knows how fortunate he is to be in a position of apparent authority.

"I believe this – why not make the most of it? You have a wonderful life? God gave you this wonderful life. Why not smile instead of being grumpy? I believe there is always tomorrow and tomorrow is always going to be wonderful.

"Football players are in a very privileged position and sometimes young fans at home, they don't listen to their own parents, they listen to the football players. If that's the case you have to set them a good example. You have to be the best you can.

"I don't want to just be a great footballer. There are plenty of great footballers around the world. I want to be a great example in life."

A model defender? Perhaps not. But, an inspirational character, and paragon professional - I don't think anyone could argue with that.

Topics:
Football
David Luiz
Chelsea
Premier League

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