Gilberto Silva, the 2002 FIFA World Cup champion from Brazil, joined ESPN in January as a studio analyst for the network’s presentation of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, June 12 – July 13, 2014. He will appear on pre-match, halftime and post-match shows, SportsCenter, World Cup Tonight, and other FIFA World Cup-themed news and information programs.
Silva began his professional career with América Mineiro in Belo Horizonte in June 1997 at 22 years old – unique in a country where most players begin their professional careers before turning 19. Silva’s career blossomed in 2000 after joining América’s intra-city rival club Atlético Mineiro and the team’s coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who managed Brazil’s 1994 World Cup-winning team, moved him from central defense to a defensive midfield role.
A year later in October 2001, Silva made his national team debut against Chile as a substitute. He went on to play in 16 matches for Brazil over three FIFA World Cup competitions (Korea-Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010). Silva manned the midfield for the Seleção from 2001-10 and played in 89 national team matches.
Silva also played on the Brazilian National Teams that won the 2005 and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup titles. He also captained Brazil’s 2007 Copa América title winning team.
Silva’s performance as a defensive midfielder on the 2002 World Cup-winning team earned him a European contract from Premier League side Arsenal FC from 2002-’08, making his debut with the club in August 2002. Due to his on-the-field play and professionalism off-the-field, Silva was named Arsenal’s vice-captain in the summer of 2006 and he finished the 2006-’07 season as the team’s second-highest scorer with 10 goals.
In July 2008, Silva left Arsenal and joined Panathinaikos FC, one of the most successful Greek football clubs. He helped the team reach the UEFA Champions League round of 16 in his first season. The next season, 2009-’10, Panathinaikos won both the Greek Super League title and Cup competitions.
Silva returned to Brazil to see out his professional career, first signing with Gremio in May 2011 before rejoining Atlético Mineiro in December 2012 after 11 years. Silva’s impact on his old team yielded immediate results as the Belo Horizonte-based club won the 2013 Copa Libertadores over Club Olimpia of Paraguay last July.
Silva continues to play for Atlético.