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Dario Silva – Football Never Far Away

It was soon time for him to begin his rehabilitation and with his positive attitude, he had already won half the battle. While he waited to travel to Italy to be fitted with a prosthetic limb, he spent his time receiving a succession of phone calls offering him support. “This shows that as well as leaving your mark as a footballer, you also left your mark as a human being,” he says, recalling all the messages he received from former teammates, fans and journalists … although at times it could all be overwhelming: “On arriving home, I would find I had received hundreds of e-mails and the phone wouldn’t stop ringing all day. Journalists would call with the best of intentions, concerned for the state of my health and 1 would politely answer exactly the same questions a hundred times a day – that I was conscious, that I was getting over it and everything was fine, that the prosthetic limb …”
Ihe adversity brought out the genuine affection that his friends fell for him. ”At first, when things were really hard, my friends were always at my side. The sad thing is that my little son Diego will not be able to watch me play football, but I’m fine now and have lots of projects and travel plans for the future,” he says enthusiastically.
After losing a play-off for the 2006 FIFA World Cup to Australia in November 2005, Silva retired from the Uruguayan national team. After the accident he rejected several offers to become a television commentator, but he still closely follows the progress of I a Celesre (“The Light Blues”, Uruguay’s nickname) under Oscar Tabarez. “I like the way Uruguay try to play, with more people up front. Trying to impose themselves on the play. When I played I was sometimes on my own with the nearest team-mate 30 or 40 metres away,’ he recalls. Without over-dramatising, he-analyses Uruguay’s chances in the World Cup qualifiers, in which they have already played four matches. ”Brazil have the edge, hut I don’t know if they’re chat far ahead of the rest … maybe it’s because they haven’t found top gear yet, Argentina are going well, Paraguay are up there … I think that Argentina and Brazil will take first and second place, followed by Paraguay. Chile and Uruguay will most likely be fighting it out for fourth place.” Silva took part in two play-offs against the Australians. The first one, for a place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan, ended in smiles, but It was a different story when the sides met again for a place in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Therefore, Silva is unperturbed by the question of whether it would be a disaster if Uruguay did not qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa”: ”Nooo … we’re used to it. It’s hard to believe because we are capable of doing well, but we are used to suffering. Uruguayans are typicaly negative in their outlook, bur there’s still plan of time left, let’s he optimistic.’ he suggests.
He likes the playing style of the current national team: “They are trying to play better. I read a while ago that Uruguayan garra (grit) doesnt exist any more, hut of course it does, it’s in our nature. But football changes, the players change … the Uriiguayans in Europe play differently, then they come over here and we expect them to show garra. Part of that change is in the conception of that word: it no longer means that we have to kick opponents in the teeth.”
Silva talks with a serenity that was never apparent on the pitch, where he had the habit of raising the temperature of games by winding up opposition defenders with his remarks and tireless running. One of his funniest anecdotes dates from when he first arrived in Italy: “I must have been one of the forwards who gave out rhe most kicks in the whole world. It was me who punished the defenders rather than the other way round. I remember a match against AC Milan in 1995, in which Franco Barcsi was playing. I was 22 years old and full of beans … I ran up and down the pitch eighty times a match. At one point Baresi stopped me and said, “Please stop running … were winning 3-0, what are you trying to do?” I used to drive them crazy!”