David Luiz has revealed the secret behind his cavalier dribbles forward – he used to be a striker.
The Chelsea star became a defender by accident, volunteering to switch from his usual No.10 role just to get a game.
The Brazilian, hoping to be a big part of new Blues boss Maurizio Sarri’s plans this season, recalled the moment that changed his career 12 years ago.
He said: “I joined Vitoria Bahia, in the north of Brazil and when I was 16 we played in a tournament in the south of Brazil, near Argentina. Our bus journey took 72 hours.
(Image: Paul Kane)
“That tournament changed my life. At the time I was a No.10 but I was on the substitutes bench at the start.
“We were playing a 3-4-3 system and in the first game of the tournament two of our centre-backs got injured.
“We didn’t have any more defenders on the bench but the coach didn’t want to change our formation. I said to him ‘I will play in defence’ because I just wanted to play!
(Image: Michael Dodge)
“So he put me in the centre of the back three, the same position I would play for Chelsea 12 years later.
“When I got back to Bahia, the coach of the first team spoke with me. He said I was going to train for six months as a defender and then I would play with the first team. So I did that, became a defender, and signed my first professional contract at 17.”
Perhaps it’s a good job Luiz switched from striker – during two spells at Chelsea he’s scored only eight Premier League goals.
Luiz reckons the best advice he ever got was from his dad – who WASN’T obsessed with him ”making it”.
Luiz added: “My great memories from that early period were with my father. Every day he brought me to the football pitch near my home and got me working on my left foot, right foot, control, everything.
“I remember many times I would kick the ball far away, and my dad would run after it to get it back for me. He would pick me up after work.
“He did everything for me, and also my mum was so important. I remember just enjoying playing football so much.
(Image: Darren Walsh)
“I never thought ‘oh I am good or I have made it’. My dad taught me the philosophy to try to improve every day.
“I have done that every day up to now. You can have different managers, different styles of football, different teams.
“In football you grow fast and so you have to have the ability to try to improve yourself every day.”