He doesn’t go by just Guiliano, but he does hail from the same country that produced the greatest single-name soccer player in the world.
Guiliano Silva arrived in Hamilton Township four years ago from Brazil, home of the legendary Pelé. There are also tons of other great players from the South American nation, which gave Silva a strong breeding ground while growing up.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “Since the day I was born I’ve been kicking the ball every day. Then I got here and I just do my thing. It’s very intense in Brazil. It is way different than here. The guys really work hard. I’m not saying they don’t work hard here but it’s like it’s their life over there.”
Unlike Americans, the Notre Dame High School senior midfielder didn’t have to pay club teams a fortune to get quality competition. He got his education from pick-up fútbol, as it’s known throughout the rest of the world.
“When I was in Brazil I didn’t play in any clubs, it’s too expensive,” he said. “I was just messing around with my friends, waiting until my time came. My mom came over here, then she called me (and said) ‘You wanna come over?’ and I came.”
The moment he arrived, Silva was impressed by the soccer opportunities offered in the United States, at both the recreation and high school level. In fact, he was impressed by everything.
“Here, it’s a way better life to live in, and there’s more chances to play soccer,” he said. “And I’m just enjoying living in it.”
And first-year Irish coach Dan Donigan enjoys having him, as Silva’s skills on the field are obvious even though he doesn’t bring much attention to himself in other ways.
“I’m still trying to get a good read on him,” Donigan said during the season’s second week. “He’s a very hard individual to read. He’s pretty quiet and withdrawn. He has to have a personality on the field. That’s what I’m trying to bring out of him, that’s the biggest thing, is that he has to have a personality.”
In other words, just having talent isn’t enough for a player of Silva’s potential to get to where he wants to go.
“Having a personality means being able to communicate, being vocal,” Donigan said. “Because he’s quiet, he’s hard to read. So your teammates are ‘What’s he thinking? What does he want me to do? Where does he want me to go?’ I think good players have a good personality on and off the field. For me, just getting to know him, he needs to be more outgoing, he needs to be more of a leader because he plays like it, but he has to show it verbally. He has to be more boisterous about it.”
Silva is the first to agree with Donigan, who is his third coach in four years at Notre Dame.
“I am very quiet,” Silva said. “I really don’t talk in a game. When I talk, I have something to say. I’ve gotta work on that, but it’s gonna take time.”
With all that being said, Silva is still a dominant force just by the way he plays. In his first year he was called up from the freshman team by varsity coach Mike Perone, who was in his final year at the helm. Perone made sure Silva knew how good he was.
“He talked to me,” Silva said. “He told me I was a good guy who could help the other guys.”
Silva played the next two years under Rich Leedom and this season Donigan is working hard to allow the Brazilian to reach his full potential.
“I really like him,” the former Steinert great said. “He’s very technical. He’s got good size, he can dribble out of pressure. He’s a very good central player. I think there’s a spot for him at the next level, but he’s got to continue to grow and develop as a player.
“He’s great on the ball, he makes good decisions on the ball, he’s very dangerous. He single-handedly can break games open. I still have a little more time with him, I think he’s gonna continue to grow and mature as a player, and I do think he’s going to play at the next level.”
As of Sept. 19, Silva had four goals and two assists from his central-midfield spot this year, and he feels his most important role is “to control the midfield and send through balls to Chris (O’Neill) and Danny Bensch up top.”
Donigan feels that Silva has the ability to score goals and set up teammates.
“He’s more of a playmaker but I also think he can get on the end of things and finish,” the coach said. “I’ve seen him score some great goals in the preseason and during the regular season. So far he’s had some great goals so I think he’s very capable of being a well-rounded player.”
Silva scored Notre Dame’s first goal in a 3-0 victory over Bordentown Sep. 14, but Scotties coach Jason Zablow was impressed with more than just his ability to find the back of the net.
“Their midfield was strong as a whole but he was probably the best player on the field that day,” Zablow said. “He kept us under duress for the 80 minutes we played them. It made it hard where we had to adjust our strategy and we couldn’t play through the midfield like we generally like to. It was hard to link up with our own midfield and we had to skip them a little bit because Silva was kind of taking over the game.”
Zablow felt that Bordentown’s best run of play during the match was the 15 minutes that Silva was on the bench.
“Then he came back in, and they kind of took the game back a little,” Zablow said. “I don’t think it was a coincidence.”
As a Division I college coach for nearly two decades, Donigan has seen his share of good players. So his observations of Silva have to be taken seriously.
“He’s made some plays I was very impressed by, that not a lot of players are capable of doing,” Donigan said. “So I’ve seen a lot out of his game already in a short period of time that I haven’t seen out of a lot of players in a long period of time. He’s nice.”
He hopes to be even nicer in an attempt to reach the next level.
“I do want to go to college, and I want to play professional,” Silva said. “Hopefully my dream comes true.”