This summer Eurosport is counting down the world's greatest footballers, as voted by our international network of journalists. We will reveal one player per day, culminating in the election of the first Ballon d'Eurosport on July 19.
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While the various Eurosport offices determined that 15 footballers are worthy of higher overall ranking than Thiago Silva, the Brazil international nonetheless collects the honour of being the top centre-back in the Ballon d'Eurosport standings.
Beginning his senior career with local side Fluminense, the Rio-born Silva’s performances for the South American side between 2006 and 2008 came to the attention of AC Milan which began the 28-year-old’s European journey.
Combining great pace for a defender with his strong six-foot frame, Silva soon carved out a reputation as one of the world’s top defenders and by the time his transfer to Milan took effect in the summer of 2009, he had become a senior international for his side.
Silva represented Brazil at the 2008 Olympics after collecting his first two caps in friendlies against Singapore and Vietnam, and after the departure of Dunga as national coach, became a first team mainstay under Mano Menezes and Luiz Felipe Scolari.
His reputation grew in 2012 when Paris Saint-Germain made a huge double capture of Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Milan. While the imperious Swedish forward of course garnered more attention during and after the transfer, Silva has gone on to cement his standing as a world class centre-back in a league title-winning debut season as club captain, forming formidable partnerships at the back with the likes of compatriot Alex and Mamadou Sakho.
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How Eurosport voted
We asked the editorial teams of 10 countries/areas around the Eurosport network to compile their list of the world's 25 best players.
Then we did the sums, Eurovision-style. It's simple: a first-place vote is worth 25 points, second place is 24... all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.
The Ballon d'Eurosport so far