Back in August 2020, veteran Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva signed a one-year deal with Chelsea, shortly after being deemed surplus to requirements at previous club Paris Saint Germain.
According to reports, the Ligue 1 giants feared that Silva – 35 at the time – was on the decline and had doubts as to whether he would continue to be able to operate at the highest level. As a result, they refused to offer him even a short-term extension to stay at the Parc des Princes.
Some 18 months later, it’s pretty clear that PSG’s loss was a massive gain for Chelsea. Just last month, the now 37-year-old signed an agreement to remain at Stamford Bridge for a third year – and his performance in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool proved exactly why the Blues were so keen to get him to put pen-to-paper.
Thomas Tuchel’s men ultimately failed to lift the first major trophy of the domestic season, losing out on penalties to the Reds after an absorbing 120-minute battle at Wembley Stadium.
At an age where most top professionals are already comfortably settled into retirement, Silva battled away for the entirety of the match and was one of Chelsea’s most consistent performers on the day.
Per Football Talk, Silva touched the ball on 93 occasions during the contest, winning a total of eight aerial and ground duels. He even rattled in a spot-kick during sudden-death when the match came down to penalties.
However, Silva’s most impressive contribution during the final came when making a fine goal-line clearance to deny Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah just after the hour mark.
An uncharacteristically poor ball from Blue’s shot-stopper Edouard Mendy gifted the Egyptian winger a one-on-one opportunity at the Chelsea goal.
It initially looked like Salah would give Jurgen Klopp’s men the advantage, especially when he lifted the ball over Mendy with ease.
Silva, though, was in no mood to allow that. Launching a sensational lung-busting run that covered more than half of the Wembley pitch, the Brazilian managed to beat every single one of his colleagues to the ball and eventually hooking it to safety.
You can check out Silva’s incredible defensive effort below. The desire shown here is on a different level.
Watch: Thiago Silva’s epic defensive run to clear Mo Salah’s effort in the Carabao Cup final
This is actually ridiculous. Look at where 37 year old Thiago Silva starts & how he manages to get back on the line ahead of any other chelsea player. pic.twitter.com/r2RqieXnsS— Felix ⭐️⭐️ (@CFC_Felix_) February 27, 2022
Fans on Twitter were amazed by Silva’s sheer will to avoid conceding and you can check out a selection of the reaction below.
His sense for danger and awareness is top notch, notice how Chalobah and Kovacic gave up, brilliant defending, experience at it's peak— samuel (@ksamuelscott) February 28, 2022
D.E.S.I.R.E …… you either got it or you ain’t !! https://t.co/t0xyovlWie— Andrew Jones (@andy_h_jones) February 28, 2022
I have watched this 100 times like how?!! Tf Thiago is a beast!!!— I’m not from Mars (@MichuOmoGidi) February 28, 2022
He is absolutely remarkable. He’s done this more than once. What a guy.— Quiet Storm (@stormofquiet) February 28, 2022
Playing twice or thrice a week and giving 9/10 performances every game at 37 years of age is just incredible. https://t.co/Sx0S1jJucD— Kedar Chandorkar (@kvc6110) February 28, 2022
When all said and done, Silva’s commitment wasn’t enough to get Chelsea over the line and the experienced campaigner wasn’t able to add the Carabao Cup to his Champions League triumph from last season.
That said, his former employers at PSG must be bitterly regretting their decision to allow him to walk away right now.
Just a year after refusing to entertain the idea of offering a fresh contract to a 35-year-old, PSG recruited Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid who was – you guessed it – that exact same age!
Football mascots quiz: Can you name the weird and wonderful characters at British clubs?
By way of comparison, Silva played as many games for Chelsea in the month of February (five) as Ramos has in his entire (injury-hit) spell at PSG.
Age seems no barrier to Silva and Chelsea fans will be in no rush to see him wind down his career.
Liverpool win the Carabao Cup (Via The Football Terrace)