Gilberto Silva is a Brazilian former professional football player. Born and raised in poverty in the Brazilian municipality of Lagoa da Prata, Silva joined the youth academy at local club América Mineiro, where he made his senior debut as a centre-back in 1998.
After starring the following season, where he helped gain the club promotion into the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, he joined city rivals Atlético Mineiro. During his time at Atlético, Silva transitioned into a defensive midfielder under head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, and flourished in his new role, gaining a call-up to the Brazilian national team for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where he featured prominently as his country won the tournament.
As a result of his World Cup performances, Silva garnered a move to the Premier League to sign for Arsenal that summer for a fee of £4.5 million. During his six years at Arsenal, Silva gained a reputation as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and starred in a midfield duo alongside Patrick Vieira. He would feature as a member of the Invincibles, where he captured his first top-flight league title as his team went undefeated the whole season, as well as winning two FA Cups.
Silva also holds distinct records at Arsenal, recording their first goal at the Emirates Stadium, as well as their fastest ever goal, scoring in 20 seconds in against PSV Eindhoven in the 2002–03 UEFA Champions League. After departing Arsenal, Silva relocated to Greece, playing for Panathinaikos, where he won a domestic double. He then returned to Brazil in 2011, signing for Grêmio, where he remained for two years, before returning to Atlético to win the 2013 Copa Libertadores prior to retiring.
Silva featured at senior level for much of his international career, representing Brazil over a period of 9 years. He enjoyed a period of sustained success with his country, as he featured prominently in their victorious campaign at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, as well as being a core component as the team also won the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, while also featuring as captain in their Copa América win in 2007.
After retaining the Confederations Cup in 2009, Silva expressed his desire to prolong his club career, which coincided with limited playing time for Brazil, prompting his retirement from international competition prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, after amassing 93 appearances for the side. Silva served as technical director at Panathinaikos in 2016.
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Watch a compilation of Gilberto’s best footballing moments, below: