Thiago Silva's modified Nike T90 Laser iii worn at the 2010 FIFA World Cup
Player name: Thiago Emiliano da Silva
Clubs: Fluminense, RS Futebol, Juventude, Porto B, Dynamo Moscow, AC Milan, Paris Saint German
Position: Central defender
Height: 6 ft 0 in
Thiago Silva is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a central defender for Paris Saint-Germain, where he is captain, and the Brazil national team. After moving to Europe to join Milan in 2009, Silva established himself as one of the highest rated defenders in the world, winning the Serie A title with the Rossoneri in the 2010–11 season. In July 2012, Paris Saint-Germain signed him for a reported €42 million, making him the then second-most expensive defender in history behind Rio Ferdinand. With PSG, Silva has won six Ligue 1 championships, five consecutive Coupes de la Ligue and four consecutive Coupe de France.
A full international since 2008 and a non-playing member of their team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Silva captained Brazil to victory at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and fourth place at the World Cup a year later, both on home soil. He was also part of their squads for the two Olympic tournaments – winning a bronze in 2008 and silver four years later – and three Copa América editions, winning the 2019 edition of the tournament on home soil; overall, he has earned over 80 international caps in total.
Here we have a pair of his Nike T90 Laser iii boots which he wore during training sessions at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa for the Brazil national team, as well as the friendly matches leading up to the tournament. Silva was an unused substitute in all matches at the 2010 World Cup, where Brazil were defeated in the quarter-finals by the eventual finalists, the Netherlands. Silva was selected as captain by new Brazil coach Mano Menezes ahead of the following World Cup in 2014 on home soil, replacing Lúcio.
This pair differ greatly from the retail version of this model T90, featuring a list of modifications which were/are simply unavailable to the public. Above, we can see a close up of the outer midfoot of each boot. The left shoe has been personalised with "Isago", the name of his son, whilst the right shoe has "Isabele" embroidered, which is the name of his wife.
Silva is heralded as one of the fastest defenders in European football, and has been described as a strong defender with good aerial ability. He combines these physical gifts with a phenomenal tactical intelligence and knowledge of the game, as well as an excellent positional sense. Thanks to his abilities, he excels at reading and anticipating plays and is excellent at closing down opposing players in possession of the ball. Hailed as the best of the new breed of defenders — composed in possession, able to create chances for his team from the back — Silva is a defender who is universally praised, being voted as one of the top two central defenders in Europe for three consecutive years
The upper of this pair is made of insanely soft K-Leather, as opposed to the synthetic which was available on retail models. Many top pros opted for this upper during the 2010 World Cup including Rio Ferdinand , Wayne Rooney and Carles Puyol. The Nike swoosh is also just a print on top of the leather, whereas on the retail versions this was a sort of 3D effect logo built into the upper material.
The upper also features additional lines of stitching on the outstep and through to the toe box area. As we can see above the retail version featured no stitching in those areas whatsoever. This may have been to support the soft K-Leather upper, whereas the stiff synthetic retail upper didn't require this added support.
One of the biggest modifications Silva made to this pair is the soleplate. Instead of opting for the carbon fibre elite FG soleplate, which was the only option on retail versions, he chose to have the configuration lifted from the T90 Laser 1 model which was released way back in 2007. This soleplate is actually still in use on Nike's latest models today by some pros such as James Milner of Liverpool FC.
In order to disguise this soleplate and make it look like the regular retail version as much as possible, Nike have made the studs themselves transparent so it is extremely difficult to notice the custom configuration. In-between the soleplate and the boot itself, lies the colouring with the orange edge with black running through the middle and the Nike logo in white located in the centre.
With the retail version soleplate, the black was of course the carbon fibre, and the orange was the studs. However, due to this custom soleplate itself being transparent on this pair, the colouring is in-between the plate and the boot itself to try and replicate the look of the retail soleplate for TV cameras. Smart disguising work by Nike's craftsmen inside the Montebelluna factory in Italy.
Silva has been recognised as a complete defender by his peers and critics. He has been described as a consistent defender, without any flaws, and someone who can lead any defence.
A leader from the back, Silva's play has led him to be compared to legendary Italian defender Franco Baresi. Baresi, regarded as one of the greatest defenders in football history, has gone on record to state that Silva is the defender who most resembles him, and said in June 2012 that Silva was his "heir". His leadership skills are also apparent through his success in captaining Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain.
Another modification on this pair is the addition of external heel counters. Retail versions featured internal ones, in an attempt to help save weight as they were only released in the "Elite" variation. With Thiago Silva being a centre back, we can assume that he would opt for protection and comfort over light weight - as his modifications such as K-Leather and external heel counters suggests. Above we can see just how soft the leather is in the heel area.
As well as the additional lines of stitching to the out step / outer toe box area, there are also some to the instep area of each boot. From the angle above we can also see the extra support that this soleplate option can offer in the midfoot area, with the strengthening bar running from the read studs to the middle of the soleplate, as well as the extra thickness of the plate itself.
The rubber shooting elements were also removed from each boot, it is unclear whether this something Nike done for the player or if Thiago SIlva did this himself. This may have been done to increase comfort levels, as with this model featured a large section of thick rubber which would effect the flex/creasing of the boot therefore effecting the overall fit and feel. This part of each boot is instead exposed leather, the same as the rest of the upper. This shows that Silva preferred a more traditional and simple leather boot instead of a pair with the technology which was available at the time, such as the carbon fibre soleplate, shooting elements and synthetic upper as mentioned earlier in this article.
Above: Thiago Silva with Josue and Nilmar on the bench during the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarter final match between Brazil and the Netherlands, at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth South Africa.
An amazing pair of heavily modified boots worn by one of the top defenders in Europe of the last decade, with them being from a World Cup it makes them especially rare too.