As David Silva hangs up his boots for the Spanish National Team, The Hard Tackle takes a moment to appreciate the genius of an underrated player.
With David Silva now calling time on his career at the international stage, it’s fair to look back at the career of one of the finest midfielders in the modern generation and a player who has spent the majority of his playing days away from the spotlights, headlines and almost everything else that comes with mainstream fame and attention.
Born in the village of Arguineguin along the coast of Gran Canaria, David Silva was introduced to the fascination and wonder of the beautiful game as an infant and for a long while futbol was the only word that existed in the kid’s vocabulary.
Eva and Fernando Silva considered the possibility that their son, born exactly 44 years after Stephen Hawking, might have speech impairment akin to that which the genius suffered post-ALS while the younger Silva pondered about the possibility of playing football for the rest of his life and imitating greatness along the lines of the man he shared a birthday with.
David Silva found his first hero in his father who played for a local side semi-professionally. The young Silva would spend his hours and days on the touchline acquainting himself with the basics and the guidelines that dictated the modern game and he soaked in everything like a sponge, trying to imitate and perfect specific moves that appealed to his joyous self.
Local fishermen, who lined up for the casual weekend game with a bottle of beer in hand, were quick to realise that the young lad they affectionately called El Chino because of his inherently small stature and tiny eyes had a touch of the extraordinaire in him.
Fernando Silva at this point also became cognizant of the fact that his son’s obsession with the game wouldn’t be limited to just that. Like any other parent, he was as scared as he was excited.
David Silva found his next superhero in a Scandinavian who plied his trade in the Cathedral of Catalonia and he soon fell in love. He fell in love with Michael Laudrup’s pure and ecstatic brilliance, the beauty of the simplicity in his game and of course, the half swivel of the body, two touch move of genius more famously known as La Croqueta.
Laudrup’s career would serve as Silva’s tutelage and their means of communication was the television. Silva took elaborate notice of how the Dane generated space, found his teammates with eyes at the back of his head and orchestrated the game by just the swerve of his hips.
Little did he know back then that he would go on to become an artist of equal measure and inspire a generation of young kids that exhaust hours watching him play in sky blue, taking notes and trying to emulate the outrageous magic show their eyes witness every week.
Like every cliched story of someone who has made it to the top, Silva’s too contains chapters of struggle. Having witnessed the careers of Andrea Pirlo, Xavi, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Luka Modric, you’d be tempted to think otherwise. But, back in the day when all of them started out as amateurs, football was still run by dogmas of height and physique.
If you weren’t tall or had a strong body build, football wasn’t for you. All the aforementioned players were subjected to prejudices built on pre-conceived notions and age-old stereotypes about the game. Like you’ve already guessed by now, Silva’s story was no different.
The Manchester City superstar made the journey from the Canary Islands to the mainland of Spain to participate in trials for Real Madrid. Taking part in a series of challenging drills and practice sessions that demanded a lot out of him, Silva managed to astound everyone with his abilities and exquisite technique.
Word has it that Silva managed to get the attention of then Real Madrid manager and a man under whom he would go on to win the World Cup for his nation 12 years later, Vicente del Bosque. Del Bosque would personally visit the training sessions to see the young midfielder in action and he was impressed with what he saw.
The Silva family firmly believed that their son would soon play in the famous royal white shirt. But, David’s diminutive size stood in the way of realising that dream.
“The teacher holds the student’s head under water until the bubbles become fewer, but the teacher knows just when to pull the student out. Upon revival, he tells the student: when you’ve craved life less and craved more the greater truth that lies beyond the immediate suffering, you’ll start craving life and its truth as air.”
And like every other catharsis, Silva learned to make peace and came to accept the age old, albeit unfair, discrimination based on stature. He instead used it as a lesson wherein life was holding his head under water for just enough to check whether he had it in him to make it past the immediate suffering when things went south.
As a reward of his endurance, a chance from Valencia came calling and David soon joined up the famed Los Che academy. His dream of making it as a professional footballer would soon come true after years in the academy and spells of loans.
David came to be a major creative force featuring in a Valencia side that also consisted a young David Villa. Silva started proving his worth bit by bit, little by little. By his third season with Los Che, Silva had become world class.
He was delightful on the ball and dished out assists to his teammates on regular basis. He would get his first taste of silverware in a Copa del Rey triumph. The Valencia side back then boasted of fine talents. But, as the promise of attaining further glory became enticing, the club found itself plagued by the chaos and uncertainty of financial crunch and constraints.
As a result, Valencia were forced to offload its promising talents that included a move for Silva to Manchester City in 2010. Eight years, multiple titles and countless goals and assists later, the player has managed to register his name on the long list of poets and artists the game has come up with.
He is definitely the greatest Spaniard to have stepped foot in and conquered England and his haul of three consecutive international titles with Spain is thoroughly enviable no matter who you are.
Just like his superhero Laudrup, David Silva has mastered the strictly sensational ability of leading the cavalry charge for his team and yet, being as invisible as Casper which is also how defenders trying to contain and cut his passing lanes end up perceiving him as.
Conducting the orchestra from behind the blinds and an absolute abstinence from media and public attention may have cost him mainstream global appeal and the rewards that follow along with. But, Silva never chased stardom in the first place.
All he did was follow his dream of kicking a ball for the rest of his life, and it’s fair to say that the kid from Gran Canaria became quite good at it. For those who know where to seek magic, they have taken to calling the pale, reticent and diminutive man named Davis Silva, wearing jersey number 21 as El Mago.