THE THURSDAY INTERVIEW: DAVID LUIZ
Posted on: Thu 03 Feb 2011
A first day in any new job can be a dizzying experience. A blur of new faces and places, protocols and procedures, car parks and corridors can be enough to confuse just about anybody.
It is easy to feel some sympathy then for David Luiz, who on his first day as a Chelsea player yesterday had to train, have a suit fitting, meet with lawyers and medical staff, and squeeze in first interviews with both the official club website and TV channel.
No problem though for Chelsea's newest recruit, who goes about his duties as quietly and patiently as you could imagine, accompanied for the entirety by his interpreter who ensures the day, and this interview, runs smoothly without a hitch.
Chelsea's newest signing, Luiz has a relatively low profile in England, particularly when compared to our other transfer deadline day acquisition, Fernando Torres, with whom the Brazilian spent much of yesterday meeting squad and staff members.
The deal to bring him here took considerable time to conclude, with Benfica announcing late last week that negotiations for the 23-year-old had broken down, only for the signing to be completed shortly before Monday's 11pm deadline.
It brought reliability and versatility to the squad, in the shape of a 6ft 2in, bubble-permed defender with international experience in his country's famous yellow, who although most comfortable in the centre of defence can also play on either flank should he be required.
After completing his move in Lisbon, Luiz flew into London early on Tuesday morning before yesterday taking his first taste of Cobham life.
Of course there were already some familiar faces. Ramires was a team-mate at Benfica last season, and the pair have also linked up with Alex in the national team, following Luiz's debut against USA last summer.
'I talked with him a lot of times before my transfer and Ramires always said he hoped I would come here because it is a special place and he would be happy if I came here,' Luiz says through his interpreter, 'and now we can play together again after our year at Benfica.
'I have known Alex for a long time. I have a lot of admiration for him, I like his football and his personality, and obviously we have both played in the national team, so he is somebody who I know well.'
Comparisons between the two are obvious. Both have a non-nonsense approach to their defensive duties while possessing a comfort with the ball at their feet traditionally associated with more attack-minded Brazilians, and not centre-backs in England's top flight.
That said, such qualities are now an expectation rather than a bonus at Stamford Bridge, with John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic equally adept in possession. Luiz is only too aware of the talent his new team boasts.
'I always knew there would be competition because Chelsea is a big club and you have to be a top player to play here,' he says.
'It is a big challenge for me, but I have a strong desire to get a space in this group and establish myself and learn from my new team-mates to become a better player and have more skills.
'The best league in the world is the Premier League, so I am so happy to be here playing with and against big players. All great players want to play against other great players, and I hope this is my time.'
Luiz has not played competitively since January 16 but is keen to stress that if called upon, he is ready for action this weekend against Liverpool.
'I hope I can play quickly, and I feel 100 percent to play tomorrow if I need to, there is no problem with my fitness,' he smiles.
'I want to help the team in whichever way Mr Ancelotti wants me to do, wherever in the team, as long as I am on the field I am happy. I am most comfortable in the centre but can play on the side also.'
Ah yes, Mr Ancelotti, in whose office he spent part of the morning, much like being called into the headmaster's office. What did the Italian say to the Sao Paulo-born player?
'He welcomed me to Chelsea, and said he was happy that I had come, he hopes I do the best I can and this makes me happy because I can work with one of the best coaches in the world right now,' is the explanation.
Luiz was joined in the office by Torres, who he faced first-hand last season in the Europa League quarter-finals. He helped shut the Spaniard out once as Benfica won 2-1 in Lisbon, but saw just how good the 26-year-old can be when Torres netted twice at Anfield to take his side through.
Some words do not require translation, so when he is asked what he made of Torres as an opponent and responds 'Dificile!' with a grin and loud exhalation of air, it is clear what he means.
'He is difficult of course because he is a big player,' he adds, indirectly once more, 'so now I am so happy that I can play in the same team as him and not against him.
How long will it be before he is speaking fluent English, just like Torres now does?
'I don't know if I will speak English too soon, but I hope soon because it will help me settle here quickly,' he concedes, before, in perfect English, adding: 'Spanish no problem!'
So with Portuguese and Spanish, there is at least a large portion of the squad with which our new number 4 can already communicate.
On that subject, what made him choose the shirt number last inhabited by Claude Makelele in 2008?
'I like 23, the shirt I had at Benfica,' he begins, though of course that is taken by the on-loan Daniel Sturridge. 'Before in Vitoria, my first club, I had number four, and for the international team I wore number four, so it made sense. Also, 23, two, three, four, so why not?!
'I liked Michael Jordan as a basketballer who wore number 23, but also David Beckham at Real Madrid, and also if you have David Luiz Moreira Marinho, my full name, there are 23 letters.'
That seems like plenty of justification, and the hope is that Luiz will be as influential on this Chelsea side as Makelele was on his. Away from football 'Maka' was also known for his supermodel wife, though Luiz has an altogether quieter existence.
'I am a quiet guy, this is very different from when I am on the field,' he explains. 'Outside the field I am a "take it easy" guy, I have a simple life. Inside the field my personality changes because I am tough when I play, but I like to stay at home, I have my family in Brazil, and the simple things make me happy.
'I don't know yet if my family will come to England, they are in Brazil and sometimes I see them when I am with the national team but it would be difficult for them to live here because it is cold!'
He may be new, but Luiz is certainly learning fast.
Watch the first interview with David Luiz here >>
Fernando Torres will be officially unveiled and presented with his Chelsea shirt at a Cobham press conference live on Chelseafc.com on Friday afternoon. David Luiz will receive his shirt in a similar broadcast next week.