Thiago Silva still counts himself as lucky to be alive never mind having enjoyed one of the best careers of his generation.
Brazil defender Thiago, 36, arrived at Chelsea with a glittering CV and yet was just 20 years old when his career was nearly over before it had begun after contracting tuberculosis.
Thiago had been struggling at Porto, had a persistent cough and was shipped out on loan to Dynamo Moscow before his condition was finally diagnosed and he ended up spending a staggering six months in hospital and did not play for a year.
Former Paris Saint Germain star Thiago, who is set for his Chelsea debut in the Carabao Cup tonight, said: “That was one of the worst experiences in my life.
“In 2005, my life could have been over but thank goodness I overcame that illness and today I can now say I am victorious both professionally and personally.
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“You have a dream as a child to be playing as a professional footballer and when I got the TB it seemed that the dream would be over. Now I can say today that I am a champion not just in football, but also in life.
“Thank God that I had the strength to overcome it and get well. It is difficult to talk about it because it brings back these memories.
“I remember my last day in the hospital. The doctor told me that I had not been cured and that I needed an operation on my lung and that my football career would be over.
“But thank God, and to the specialist, little by little, I got better and got back. Then, little by little, with dedication I managed to play football. It is difficult.”
Thiago’s story is inspiring as he has gone on to win 89 caps for Brazil, played for AC Milan, won seven league titles with PSG and now arrives at Chelsea for a fresh challenge.
He gave his introductory interview at Chelsea through an interpreter but is confident he will learn English quickly, is ready to be the defensive leader Frank Lampard wants and also insists that his age and the pace of the Premier League is not an issue.
“I’m coming here as an older player so I see that as Frank Lampard and Chelsea want a player with my experience,” he said.
“If you want someone as a runner - I’ll use the words of Carlo Anelotti in his signing of James Rodriguez. ‘If you want someone just to run, sign Usain Bolt.’
“In relation to not speaking English, it’s going to be difficult, it always is with a new language, but you are speaking to someone who speaks Italian, French and Spanish and Portuguese.
"The tendency when you learn some languages, others come easier.
“I’d never seen myself in the Premier League previously. That was because I saw it as a difficult style of football personally. I didn’t have any desire to play in the Premier League.
"My impression of the football played was that one with long balls, high balls, long shots.
“And at the time I couldn’t really see myself playing in that championship. That really didn’t appeal to me. But over time I’ve seen that the championship has developed tremendously.
"There’s a lot more technical quality, a lot of teams play with the ball on the ground.
“I will do my best possible and really contribute to this team, this new project. I’ve accepted this new challenge it’s going to be really good for me.
"Everyone knows that my ambition is to pay in the World Cup in two years’ time when I’ll be 38. That’s a great responsibility.”