The Cult of David Luiz: Why the Chelsea and Brazil Star Is so Loved

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18:  David Luiz of Chelsea during the UEFA Champions League Group E Match between Chelsea v FC Basel at Stamford Bridge on September 18, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Geezer. The definitive meaning of the term depends upon which continent you find yourself in.

In North America it describes an aging member of society, a man who has had his day. In Europe—and Britain, more to the point—it’s quite the opposite.

It’s a phrase for a comrade, an eccentric, a like-minded fellow who is seen as one of your own. So when David Luiz refers to Chelsea fans as such, it’s no wonder his levels of adoration are somewhat elevated.

Chelsea’s Brazilian centre-back is an icon along the Fulham Road. His flamboyant hairstyle alone ensures he stands out, but there’s so much more to his character that has seen him earn cult status in English football.

He isn't just a football player. David Luiz is a geezer.

Indeed, his approach to life in London is akin to the foreign stars who started the Premier League’s influx of overseas talent in the 1990s.

2 Nov 1996:  Gianluca Vialli of Chelsea celebrates his teams second goal during the FA Carling Premier league match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester. Chelsea won the match 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Gary Prior/Allsport
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

When Gianluca Vialli first moved to Chelsea from European champions Juventus in 1996, for instance, it wasn't going to take much for fans to adopt him in their affections. The sight of him cursing missed opportunities or errors in their native tongue ensured that process happened a little quicker. Oh, and his goals helped a little bit, too.

It was then captain Dennis Wise who had helped Vialli adopt those choice words from the English language. It was a dressing room prank, yet its significance wasn't lost on Blues fans.

There's something about a foreign star utilising the local slang that English football supporters find irresistible. It appeals to their humour, shows the character of a man. It represents the player as being one of them.

Vialli was very much a man of the people in this sense and in a more modern time, David Luiz has taken on that mantle.

“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.

He didn't say much else. He didn't need to.

That single turn of phrase summed up everything the Brazilian wanted to express at that moment. Here he was, celebrating the greatest achievement of his club career and he wanted to share it with his people, his geezers.

That’s the appeal of David Luiz. In a time where corporate sponsorships and endorsements have improved many aspects of football, they've also taken some of the romance away.

We often hear of how players aren't the characters they used to be. Where are the loveable rogues from yesteryear? In David Luiz, they’re alive and well. They've just changed tack a little.

Gary Neville was criticized when he likened the Brazilian to a computer game footballer when commentating for Sky Sports in 2011.

"[David Luiz looks like he is] controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation," Neville said, as the Daily Mail reported at the time.

Luiz’s response? A tweet to the ex-Manchester United defender-cum-pundit, making light of it all.

"Gary Neville, I love you," he said, as per Metro.

In any case, it was hardly a damning indictment of the way David Luiz plays the game. In fact, Neville’s observations sum up why he is so adored.

Tacticians and purists will disagree, but it's refreshing to see David Luiz play football. Sure, he wanders and is erratic at times, but he plays with all the enthusiasm of someone in love with the game.

Fans respond to that in a player. It’s why they respond to David Luiz. They may not always be certain of what he will do next, but Chelsea supporters always know that whatever happens, David Luiz will be playing with the lust and enthusiasm they themselves bring to the game.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 30:  David Luiz of Brazil celebrates with trophy after victory in the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Final match between Brazil and Spain at Maracana on June 30, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Laurence Griffi
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

If you are a Chelsea fan, newspapers and Internet news sites must make for depressing reading right now.

It was revealed only last week by the Daily Star that David Luiz is apparently deemed surplus at Stamford Bridge, which has reignited interest from Spanish champions Barcelona.

The report suggests the Brazilian could be gone by January, with a £29 million deal believed to be on the table, thus bringing to an end his three-year love affair with Chelsea and English football.

How true these claims are remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: The day David Luiz departs West London will be a sad occasion. And not just for those who worship him at Stamford Bridge.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes


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