Silva, earning his bread with the ball

“Yes, I’m a bread expert!” admitted Gaston Silva with a grin. “I might not remember everything that I knew back then, but I used to be good at making it,” added the Uruguayan defender, brought up amongst the sacks of flour and yeast of the family bakery his dad still runs in the city of Salto, in an interview with FIFA.com.  

With everybody expected to lend a hand, Gaston happily pitched in until he turned 15, when he felt the moment was ripe to pull out all the stops in a bid to make it as a pro footballer. Older brother Martin came to a similar conclusion, so the pair bid farewell to the family home and joined their sister, who was heading to the capital Montevideo to continue her education. 

“It wasn’t easy for them to support the three of us,” said Silva. “The hard work and sacrifices made by the whole family were crucial, but it’s still one of those experiences that we look back on very fondly.”  

Silva’s mother, Patricia Perdomo, whose brother is Jose El Chueco Perdoma – a Copa America winner with Uruguay in 1987 and a Copa Libertadores champion with Penarol that same year – knew how gruelling football could be and how tough it is to make it. For that reason she and her sons came to an agreement: they would have two years to make the breakthrough. 

Seven years have since passed and, all in all, the gamble has clearly paid off. Martin is playing in Uruguay after a brief spell in Europe, while this summer Gaston joined Spanish outfit Granada on loan from Italy’s Torino. Fully settled in the Andalusian city, Gaston admitted to his apartment lacking just one fundamental item for any Uruguayan abroad: “We’ve got a good-sized terrace here so we’re just waiting for them to install a grill, to get some asados (barbecues) going.” 

Seeking experience 

What is more, Silva did his research on La Liga prior to arriving, chatting with such illustrious compatriots as Luis Suarez, Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez. “They all told me that it’s a very tough competition and that no teams roll over for you,” said the versatile defender, before underlying his hope that Granada, who have endured a tough start, can steer clear of a relegation battle. “Once we play more games we’ll gel more and better adapt to the style of play the coach is looking for, and we hope not to have such a tough time of it.” 

What was it that brought him to Granada? “I was looking to keep gaining experience to continue growing as a player,” said Silva, in addition to seeking the first-team action he was not getting at Torino, and which the 22-year-old feels is vital for improving his chances with the Uruguayan senior squad. “I made my debut in 2014 in a friendly against Oman, but I think the fact I’ve not had much of an opportunity to play is due to a lack of regular football with my club, and I think I can get that at Granada.”

Indeed, after being part of the squad involved in this year’s Copa America Centenario, since switching to Los Nazaríes Silva has started twice for La Celeste in 2018 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, putting in solid performances at left-back against Argentina and Paraguay – despite being a central defender by trade. 

“I’m a centre-back and that’s where I feel most comfortable, but I’m a young player and I want to do what’s best for the group. I’ll play wherever I can lend a hand. I’d even go in goal! But I felt good there [at left-back].” Not a big talker off the pitch, Silva sheds any signs of shyness as soon as he crosses the white line. Once on the pitch his performances are notable for his alert defending, intelligent positioning and a willingness to make his voice heard when required. 

Russia 2018 the goal 

Captain of the Uruguayan U-20 team that finished World Cup runners-up at that level in 2013, Silva also played for Las Charrúas in the final of the U-17 World Cup in 2011, when they again claimed silver. “Uruguay have a great squad and the team is very committed to the cause,” he said, on his next international objective: reaching Russia 2018. “Let’s hope that it all works out so I can be there.”  

In the always fiercely contested South American Zone qualifying competition, Silva noted that he expects Uruguay’s next opponents to be rivals for a Russia 2018 berth. “Colombia are very strong and I think they’re one of the sides that’s going to fight really hard to reach the World Cup,” said the defender, before daring to make a prediction on how the final qualifying standings will turn out. 

“It’s very difficult, but of course we want to be there so I’ll say Uruguay will finish top, then maybe Argentina, Brazil, Chile and then Colombia in the play-off spot. That’s how it will be, more or less.” 

And though there are a lot of games still to be played before we know if Silva’s prediction is accurate or not, a win in Barranquilla this Tuesday would put him – and Uruguay – a significant step closer to their goal. 

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Source: Fifa 2018

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