Chelsea’s David Luiz: Player Profile

For much of the last decade, Chelsea were synonymous with their long-standing triumvirate of Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba. The three spearheaded the club’s climb to multiple Premier League titles and stood steadfast in the face of an endless whirlwind of managers. The old guard, though, has broken up, and a new wave of Chelsea heroes have stepped up to guide the club to further success. None more so than David Luiz, who is famous for his Sideshow Bob-esque appearance and typical Brazilian flamboyance, but exudes a remarkable confidence on the pitch and has shown the requisite leadership skills to be Chelsea’s future captain.

David Luiz Moreira Marinho, known to most as David Luiz, was born on April 22nd 1987 in Diamema, Sao Paulo in Brazil. He started his youth career with Sao Paulo FC at the age of 12, but was eventually released and headed to Esporte Clube Vitoria at the age of 14. He was played as a defensive midfielder, but was never comfortable in the position. Vitoria almost let him go, but they decided to keep him and he was soon moved position to a central defender, adapting well to it. In 2006, Luiz was promoted to the club’s first team, regularly playing left-back.

His performances in the remaining nine matches helped Vitoria win promotion to the second division, and he was called up to represent Brazil at the 2007 FIFA Under-20’s World Cup in Canada. He was suspended for four matches during the tournament after elbowing a player. He played a total of 26 games for Vitoria, scoring 1 goal.

During the January transfer window in 2007, David Luiz made his way to Portugal to join Benfica on loan to fill in for Ricardo Rocha who left to join Tottenham. In his first match for Benfica, he came on in the first-half of the UEFA Cup match against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), replacing the injured Luisao. He played terribly during the game; Benfica were 1-0 down before his introduction, eventually losing the match 2-1. After he match he stated, “unfortunately, I could not have the debut I wanted.”

However, during his loan, he played 14 games, impressing as a central defender, which earned him a contract at the end of the season, and he signed for Benfica at the age of 19 in a five-year deal. He missed most of his first season through a foot injury making only 13 appearences. In his second season, Luiz played most of it at left-back under Quique Flores, but didn’t quite shine in that position. At the start of the 09/10 season, Benfica brought in new manager Jorge Jesus.

Jesus moved Luiz back to central defense and made him vice-captain to fellow Brazilian defender Luisao. He played 49 games, scoring 4 goals, and helping Benfica win the Portuguese Liga for the first time in five years. Benfica also went on to win the League Cup. Luiz won Portuguese Liga Player of the Year voted by the Sports Journalists Association. He became a popular figure in Portugal, particularly by the Benfica fans, earning the nickname “Sheriff.” After a brilliant season, Luiz was called up to the Brazilian national first team for a friendly and made his debut, impressing against the United States in August of 2010 after Dunga was replaced by Mano Menezes who felt the Brazil team needed a change.

For having a great season, Benfica placed a £42 million release clause on him, as well as renewing his contract as he was attracting interest from various clubs. The Brazilian was a lot of the talk during the 2010 summer transfer window as clubs fought for his signature, including both Chelsea and Manchester City, but he stayed at Benfica as they rejected £27 million offers from both teams.

On the last day of the January 2011 transfer window, Luiz moved to Chelsea for an undisclosed fee, which is reported to be €25 million. He signed on a five-and-a-half-year deal, which also saw Nemanja Matic join Benfica as part of the deal. He made his English Premier League debut in a defeat against Liverpool after replacing Jose Bosingwa. A week later, he made his first start against Fulham in a 0-0 draw, in a match he which he was awarded Barclays Man of the Match despite giving away a penalty in the dying seconds of the game, which luckily was saved by Cech. On March 1st, Luiz scored his first Chelsea goal to help beat Manchester United 2-1.

He also scored against Manchester City, and his performances led to him being awarded Player of the Month for March. He helped Chelsea gain a Champions League place for next season. He was called up to the Brazilian team for the 2011 Copa America, but he didn’t play any games as he was injured. He also missed the first few games of the 11/12 season, making his return in the UEFA Champions League group stage against Bayer Leverkusen, scoring in the match to help Chelsea earn a 2-0 win. During the last 16 of the Champions League, Luiz had a great performance against Napoli to help them turn around a 3-1 loss, with a 4-1 extra time win in the tie.

He was rewarded by UEFA as the Man of the Match, an award he also received in the first leg of the quarter-finals against his former side Benfica after an impressive away display, helping his side beat Benfica 1-0. During the FA Cup semi-finals, he left the pitch with a muscular injury against Tottenham, and it was announced by Chelsea that he would miss the final of the FA Cup and both semi-finals against Barcelona in the Champions League.

However, Chelsea won the FA Cup and Luiz received a medal, and they also beat Barcelona, in a match that saw John Terry being red carded for kneeing a player. Luiz would return to the side for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, at the Allianz Arena, playing the full 120 minutes, as the match went to penalties. Luiz would take one and score as Chelsea won the match 4-3 on penalties and lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy.

His performances that season earned him a new five-year contract, and he started the 2012/13 season a regular in the heart of Chelsea’s defense. During the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup, he was chosen as the second best player in the tournament, being rewaded with the Silver Ball for his efforts as Chelsea lost out to Brazilian side Corinthians in the final.

On September 7th 2012, Luiz captained the Brazilian national side for the first time, in a win against South Africa in his home city of Sao Paulo. He is now the vice-captain of the side, after being a regular in the team, winning 20 caps, and should play a vital part in the team at the 2014 World Cup which takes place in Brazil.

In the 2012/13 season, Luiz has made a reputation for scoring long range goals and free kicks. His position is centre-back, but he often plays as a defensive midfielder, although you’d never think it as his style of play is very attacking, that of a typical Brazilian player.

He’s a devoted Christian, and has stated: “My faith gives me the belief that I can go out and perform and improve as a player. It gives me strength and inspiration.”

At 26 years old, he’s still a young player, and many pundits have predicted his future lies not just as a flamboyant, charismatic centre back, but as captain of both Chelsea and the Brazilian national side.

Article by Alan Murphy

photo credit: The_Old_Grey_Wolf via photopin cc

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