DOHA – Is age just a number? It doesn’t work that way for everyone, but for quarterbacks Thiago Silvaof Braziland pepein Portugalis what it has looked like over the course of 2022 World Cup🇧🇷 Few believed that they could continue at a high level approaching 40 years old, but the pair of defenders has been standing out in the campaign of their selections, both classified to the quarterfinals.
Born in Maceió (AL), Képler Laveran de Lima Ferreira, Pepe, built a hugely successful career in Europe, especially at Real Madrid. The fame of violence, which marked the beginning of his career, was left behind with decisive performances in several cups won. Back at Porto, the team for which he stood out, he managed to remain at a high level and remain one of the leaders in the national team. Last Tuesday, the 6th, Pepe put his name in the book of World Cup records.
At 39 years and 283 days old, in 6-1 thrashing of Switzerlandhe became the oldest player to score a goal in a decisive World Cup, surpassing the Cameroonian Roger Milla, who was 38 years and 34 days old against Colombia, when he stole the ball from the folkloric goalkeeper Renpe Higuita, in the round of 16 of the Italian Cup, in 1990.
“I am privileged to be able to play football, I feel very happy to be able to wake up every day and do what I love most. That [o recorde] it will only have a great meaning if we reach the final and win”, said the Alagoan, who avoided saying if he would like to face Brazil in the decision. “Our first final is against Morocco.” Roger Milla, however, continues as a player oldest to score a goal in World Cups, as he was 42 years and 39 days old when he scored against Russia, in the first phase of 1994, in the USA.
Thiago Silva has also been fundamental for Brazil, on and off the field, in defense and even in attack. In the 4-1 triumph over South Korea, the rare elegant defender provided an assist for Richarlison. “It was a play that we didn’t work on because we didn’t participate in those situations in training, but after the corner I decided to stay in attack. I even thought about going back [para a defesa], because Marquinhos was already there, but I thought: ‘ah, I’ll take advantage of the fact that I’m already here.’ The pass was perfect, it was easy to find Richarlison, his dominance was perfect and the finish cold, as Tite had been asking for”, he said after the match.
The Chelsea defender, also multi-champion with Milan and PSG, received the captain’s armband for the third consecutive Cup, this time permanently, and has been assuming the role of leader, including in interviews, in which he defends the most criticized teammates and also the decisions of the technical committee. One of them, having rested starters in the defeat to Cameroon, especially benefited him, since, at the age of 38, he flew against Korea. “We entered with a team that was physically rested, and today with 90 minutes less played, we saw the difference, you could see it in the gesture of our opponent [o cansaço dos coreanos]🇧🇷
With an impeccable World Cup, Thiago Silva, whose technical quality was never in question, has been leaving behind distrust of his leadership role. In the 2014 World Cup, the scene of the captain in tears, before the penalty shootout in the round of 16 against Chile, was marked, denoting a certain emotional lack of control. At the beginning of the preparation, the player showed discomfort with the memory, but guaranteed to be more mature.
“I was always prepared for every situation. It is a special moment, I appreciate the trust of the technical committee for the captaincy. Some things change over time, it’s natural, today I’m much better prepared, sometimes it’s no use, we have to hit our faces against the wall to learn. I feel calm and at ease here, there is mutual respect, and I am making the most of my best version at 38.”
Brazil will face Croatia in the quarterfinals, on the 9th, while Portugal will face Morocco, on the following day.