He came from Benfica at a “hefty” price of €25 million + one Nemanja Matic. He went to PSG for a world record transfer of £50 million after three and a half years.
But during this relatively short time, David Luiz had become a cult figure at Chelsea.
His flamboyant curls and maverick defending made him stand out from the crowd.
If you go looking for drama on a football field, there are two varieties on offer. One is the fiery, dangerous type of Diego Costa and the other is the fun, cheery type of David Luiz.
Luiz made his first start for Chelsea in the London derby away to Fulham. He was voted Barclays Man of the Match. Chelsea won the derby but not before the Brazilian had conceded an extra time penalty (which was saved by the Chelsea legend Petr Cech).
His first goal came against none other than Manchester United (he scored two more against them at later times) and proved to be the difference between the teams on the day.
His sometimes erratic style of defending style didn’t amuse everyone in England. Gary Neville famously said
“[David Luiz looks like he is] controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation”
Luiz’s hilarious response summed up everything the fans loved him for. His big heart.
Good morning GEEZERS,go to Germany now! Gary Neville i love u! :p
— David Luiz (@DavidLuiz_4) November 22, 2011
In April 2013, Chelsea faced City in the FA Cup semi-final, the talking point of the match being Sergio Aguero’s two footed stamp on the Chelsea center back. It was much more than a simple violent conduct charge and it is perhaps one of the biggest fuck ups by FA in recent years as Aguero escaped punishment due to a loophole in FA’s laws. (Apparently referee Chris Foy had seen the incident but due to the fact he had forgotten his balls at home, he didn’t see anything wrong.)
Luiz’s response was classy:
I never saw Aguero do bad tackles on other players. I think it was five seconds [of anger] and I forgive him. I didn’t speak to him after the game. I have a good heart, I don’t like to beat [up] some people.
A month after, Chelsea were facing Manchester United at home. United were losing and the frustration got to Rafael after he was unable to get the ball from Luiz after receiving a flailing elbow or two in his general direction (the elbows were not in the class of Fellaini). Rafael swung a boot and Luiz went down in a heap. As the United fans in front of him gave him the stick, the geezer couldn’t help seeing the funnier side and broke into a grin. Behind his back Rafael was getting sent off, Ferguson blew his top off and Luiz was established firmly as a cult figure at Stamford Bridge.
Champions League Winner
Every Chelsea faithful would remember the unforgettable 4-1 win over Napoli on course to the Champions League title in 2011-12. But not everyone will remember that Luiz was chosen as the UEFA’s man of the match on the night. (Chelsea were beaten by Napoli in the first leg away 1-3 and the young manager Ande Villas Boas had been showed the door. No replacement was appointed and it was upto the assistant manager Roberto Di Matteo who took helm of the team for the rest of the season.)
Luiz was again the man of the match in next round as he helped Chelsea beat his old team Benfica 0-1 in the away fixture.
Luiz was out injured for the semi-finals against Barcelona and should’ve missed the final as well. However he risked his health to play the full 120 minutes in the match every player dreams to play. He was one of the penalty takers in the penalty shoot-out and successfully scored one. So determined was Luiz to play in the final that he will carry a hugely pronounced, deep indentation in his right leg for the rest of his life.
The year of free-kicks
In the above video, you will notice the commentator saying, “it’s gonna need something a little bit of something special from someone, from someone like Mata, someone like Hazard”. As if right on cue, there was David Luiz in with a goal of the season contender.
Luiz scored three impressive free-kicks the 2012-13 season. Plus one another 30 yard beauty to take his total to seven goals that season.
Luiz’s life wasn’t as cheery under Jose Mourinho as he found himself out of the first team quite often. After the first season under Portuguese, he was subject to a a world record bid of £50 million as Chelsea offered him a new contract. He opted to leave.
He was on the receiving end of 7-1 thrashing by Germany in the World Cup 2016 semi-final shortly after.
“Geezers!” he cried from Chelsea’s open-top bus when the players paraded the Champions League trophy through the streets of West London in 2012.
Luiz often referred to the fans as Geezers and in turn was commonly known as Geezer among the fans. Perhaps its one of the first English words he learnt in England, maybe as part of a prank from other teammates.
But the word bears the most significance here. It’s a phrase for a comrade, an eccentric, a like-minded fellow who is seen as one of your own.