Among the many stories the Portuguese media features today about Porto’s Champions League clash against Chelsea, there’s an interview in A Bola with Blues defender Thiago Silva.

There’s a special reason why local outlets have been showing special interest in the Brazilian defender in the past week. That’s because back in 2005, he spent a few months with the Dragons, at a very important moment for his life.

Thiago Silva had tuberculosis back then, and could’ve ended his career at the age of 20. He had already been living with his girlfriend, now wife, Isabelle, and highlights her importance in his life since then.

“Everything I experienced in Porto was very strong. In a few months, I went from the dream of European football to the nightmare of maybe never playing football again. That period helped to form the athlete and the human being that I am today,” Thiago Silva told A Bola.

“Belle is a great partner that God has placed in my path. We were very young at the time, we did not have a financial situation that would allow for another type of support. Even today, when I look back, it’s difficult to assimilate everything that happened. But it made me stronger. God’s way has these things, sometimes at the moment we don’t realise it, but God is very good with us.”

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A Bola recalled words from Italian legend Paolo Maldini saying Silva is the only central defender who could ‘change the result of game’, and asks him about that.

“Maldini is one of my biggest references in football. I had the opportunity and the honour to work with him at Milan. It’s an immense pride to receive such praise, even more from those who came. All players on the pitch have a role that will influence the game. I always try to do the best I can to make my team the winner. Victory always comes first. If you become the protagonist of the match, great. If I have to fulfil my role in order for another teammate to shine, I will do it too.”

Speaking of tonight’s clash against Porto, the Chelsea player highlights how difficult it was to beat the Dragons 2-0 last week, and what they need to get qualification now.

“FC Porto are very well trained, with a very fast transition. There are several players who can cause problems individually. We won the first game because we had a very concentrated game. We have to be like that in this second match as well.

“We’re very prepared for all matches, especially for a match of this magnitude. Almost all possibilities are discussed during the week. In the first game we knew it would be a very difficult opponent. No one reaches this stage of the competition by chance. It was a very difficult game. The second duel is certainly going to be complicated, too.”