‘Brazil is the country for football. If you’re a man you want to play football, if you’re a girl you want to play football. People live and breathe football.’
David Luiz seems to have confirmed what we all thought. Brazil, as a nation, is football mad. Last summer’s Olympics showed us in Great Britain there is little that can unite a country like sporting success, and with a World Cup and Games to follow in his homeland over the next three years, the defender is more excited than ever at the prospect of pulling on the famous yellow shirt when they meet Russia at Stamford Bridge this month.
‘I am a proud Brazilian, and love to play for my country,’ the 25-year-old told us. ‘I hope to be involved in such a big opportunity to play at my home with my country. My heart is yellow and green, so this will be another special moment in my life.’
Like most of us, as a boy David Luiz dreamed of captaining his country. Unlike most of us, he has achieved that dream, standing in for regular skipper Thiago Silva at the end of 2012 and in last month’s game against England at Wembley.
‘I have a privilege in my life and I say thanks every day to God,’ he said. ‘To be captain of your country and have that responsibility is a dream come true. When I was young, shooting balls in the street at walls, doors and windows, getting shouted at, I dreamed and looked at the TV with Cafu and then Gilberto Silva as captain, just looking at them wanting the shirt, and now I had three opportunities to be captain of the team. I’m a lucky guy.
‘The game against England at Wembley in February was special for me. I didn’t know if I would play, I didn’t train for two weeks before, only the day before the game, but I was captain of Brazil and there were great players involved. Ashley Cole, with his 100 caps, Steven Gerrard, Ronaldinho. To play this game after some difficult weeks, where I was doing treatment from seven until seven every day, it was so special. We were unlucky with the result but it was a very good game and both teams really tried to score goals.’
The next test will see David Luiz and his team-mates, under the guidance of Luiz Felipe Scolari, take on Fabio Capello’s side in west London. Sat in the home dressing room at Stamford Bridge, the former Benfica man admitted it would be a huge honour to represent his nation in such familiar surroundings.
‘This place is amazing,’ he smiled. ‘I like this dressing room, where I am before games enjoying the moments with my team-mates and the staff. We can be very concentrated too, thinking different things before the game. Everybody knows I love playing for Chelsea and at Stamford Bridge, it’s a special place for me.
‘My favourite thing is the atmosphere when there is a big game. The supporters are close in the stadium, in others they are far away. It’s a style you have in the English stadiums, and it’s nice, I like that.’
Alongside him in the line-up could be two Chelsea team-mates, Oscar and Ramires, equally excited about the forthcoming game. The most advanced English speaker of the trio, David Luiz often acts as a spokesman for the trio.
‘I’m not the leader,’ he insists, however. ‘Both guys are more shy than me, so this is my personality. Always I try to show people who the true David Luiz is. You remember when I came here? I didn’t speak one word in English, but I tried to show myself to people, that I’m a happy guy and wanted to make friends.
‘Some people don’t know but people helped me a lot when I arrived at Chelsea, and it made a nice atmosphere for me. Rami and Oscar are shyer than me, but we spend time together because we are friends, not just team-mates. I help them with some things and they help me a lot with other things, we’re like a little family. We were at my flat together for Christmas, and at Ramires’s flat for New Year. It shows how our life is outside of Chelsea too.’
There promises to be a party atmosphere on March 25, an ideal night for the family to strut their stuff in front of a packed stadium. The father figure, of course, is Scolari, who himself is no stranger to our home having managed the club between 2008 and 2009.
‘I’ve known Scolari for a long time, and he is a great manager,’ said David Luiz. ‘Everybody knows he worked in Chelsea as well, and won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002.
‘He has done great jobs in Europe with other teams too, he has great experience and has come back to the national team to help us. I did an interview once in Portugal and I said I would love to work with Scolari, one day I hoped to have the opportunity and now I have this opportunity.’
You have the opportunity to see Brazil take on Russia at the Bridge on March 25. Kick-off is at 7.30pm with prices starting from just £25 for adults and £12.50 for juniors.