Gilberto Silva: The Invisible Wall
Brazil's brilliance is balanced upon Gilberto Silva
Born: Oct. 7, 1976, in Lagoa da Prata, Brazil
Nickname: Parede Invisivel (The Invisible Wall)
Clubs played for: In his youth, Gilberto was considered an average defensive midfielder who could never hold onto a regular place in Brazil's national team because his style of play was the antithesis of A Selecao (The Selection) offensive intentions. When Parede Invisivel moved to Arsenal from Atletico Mineiro, however, he proved that his defensive obstinacy could blend seamless with attacking verve. From 2002 to 2008, the 33-year-old was ubiquitous in Arsenal's run to two Premier League and FA Cups titles. When he left the Emirates Stadium in 2008 he took his defensive talents to Panathinaikos and helped the Prasinoi (The Greens) win its first league title in six years.
International career: Although he was a member of the 2002 World Cup winning team, Gilberto has always been criticized by the Brazilian media for not being an offensive magician like his countrymen. Nevertheless, the midfielder has made 86 appearances since 2001 and will be important to Dunga's team this summer.
Why is he so special? As it was said of Brazilian head coach Dunga during his international career, many rarely notice Gilberto's contribution's on the pitch, but his style combines roughness and grace. He will push, shove and kick anyone to get the ball, but then will gently caress the ball as he looks for the best option to move it forward. What's more, Parede Invisivel isn't without his own goal-scoring abilities — he is adept with both feet and loves to score with his head.
His most famous moment: Gilberto has a knack for scoring in the Charity Shield. He scored in each of Arsenal's last appearances in 2002 and 2004, both victories in the curtain raiser of the English soccer season.
He said it: "Look at the players we have — Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano — they don't need Gilberto Silva up there to help with the creating."
What they're saying about him: "Every team needs a player like Gilberto and we are delighted to have him." — Dunga, Brazil's head coach
Here is an interesting fact: Apropos of his role as the holding midfielder who sets the rhythm and pace of Brazil's transition game, Gilberto loves to play the the Mandolin and guitar in his spare time.