A workhorse with incredible stamina, as well as tackling and leadership skills, he was best known for his 13-year spell with Deportivo de La Coruña, also being part of Brazil's World Cup-winning squad in 1994.
With the Galicians, Silva was an everpresent fixture, only suspensions and injuries preventing him from being cast into the starting XI (in 1994–95 he only appeared in six La Liga matches and, already 36, was limited to 20 in his final year), as he helped the club to one league, two cups and three supercups, adding to this the club's five participations in the UEFA Champions League, reaching the semifinals in 2003–04: after a 0–0 away draw against F.C. Porto, he missed the second leg due to suspension, and Depor lost 0–1.
On 22 May 2005, after 13 years with Deportivo, Silva was replaced by longtime understudy Aldo Duscher during a 0–3 home loss against RCD Mallorca, bidding farewell to the club and football (in the same match as another club legend, Fran). With Brazil, he collected 58 caps in 10 years, playing all the matches and minutes (except for the second half of the group stage match against Sweden) in the nation's victorious campaign at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.