Luiz's Christian faith behind Chelsea's hands-on attitude
Friday 21 October 2011
It might have been dismissed as "touching Fernando Torres for luck", but the ritual David Luiz performed before Chelsea's 5-0 Champions League win over Genk – in which Torres scored twice – is rooted more in the Brazilian international's faith than in some pre-match superstition.
Luiz has never played down his strong Christian beliefs and he has links with the Atletas de Cristo (Athletes of Christ) – a non-profit organisation that is made up of sportsmen and was started in Brazil in 1984. It is linked with the evangelical movement and counts Kaka and Lucio among its many devotees.
"My faith gives me the belief that I can go out and perform and improve as a player. It gives me strength and inspiration," Luiz said last season.
The laying-on of hands on a team-mate is not something he practised at Benfica but he was famous there for the stickers on a van that he used to drive to training – one saying "Christ is life" and the other "God is Faith".
When he left Portugal he nearly ended up at Real Madrid with Kaka, who he has often said inspires him "both on and off the pitch". Asked about his future while still at the Portuguese club, Luiz said: "Everything in life belongs to God. Our purpose has already been mapped out."
Fifa banned prayer in the last World Cup in reaction to Brazil celebrating their 2009 Confederations Cup victory in worship. The Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez gets down on his knees to pray before kick-off.
Branislav Ivanovic believes that with or without Luiz's hands-on approach the Chelsea players knew Torres, who cost the club £50m from Liverpool in January, would come good.
"I always said there is no question about Fernando because he is really great," Ivanovic said. "He showed every day his professionalism on the training ground, how he is working hard for the team. We expect more goals from him. It is important to have the big squad and the big players who can decide games. Fernando showed his quality in his play and how he will fight for the team. We are happy with that."
The suggestion is that the laying on of hands could make another appearance in Sunday's derby at QPR. Not on Torres though – the striker is serving the final instalment of his domestic three-match suspension. But there are other candidates for the treatment, with John Terry, Didier Drogba and Juan Mata all likely to return after being rested against Genk.
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