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.
Latest in Sport
Jose Mourinho highlights Arsenal spending over last 'three or four years', says Gunners are ready to be a title contenders
Manchester United fans want Louis van Gaal to sign Cristiano Ronaldo over Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski this summer
Angel Di Maria latest: PSG have 'only offered £28.5m' for winger, Manchester United holding out
Chelsea vs Barcelona preview: 'Football without titles is nothing,' says Jose Mourinho
Charlie Austin to Newcastle: Magpies expected to make £13.25 bid for QPR striker
- 1 Lord Sewel quits: Peer 'boasts of having sex with BBC presenter and seeing 13 mistresses'
- 2 Topshop pulls 'ridiculously skinny' mannequins after being shamed by customer on Facebook
- 3 Five-year-old boy forced classmate to simulate oral sex at primary school, claims mother
- 4 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 5 Polish court orders bank to repay drugged man after he spends £23,400 in lap dance bar
The 9 charts that show the 'left-wing' policies of Jeremy Corbyn the public actually agrees with
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
What the Labour party could look like under Jeremy Corbyn
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park