Mikaël Silvestre

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Mikaël Silvestre
Tweedy silvestre.JPG
Silvestre playing for Arsenal in 2009
Personal information
Full name Mikaël Samy Silvestre[1]
Date of birth (1977-08-09) 9 August 1977 (age 37)
Place of birth Chambray-lès-Tours, France
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[2][3]
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
Chennaiyin FC
Number TBA
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1996–1998 Rennes 49 (0)
1998–1999 Internazionale 18 (1)
1999–2008 Manchester United 249 (6)
2008–2010 Arsenal 26 (3)
2010–2012 Werder Bremen 27 (1)
2013–2014 Portland Timbers 8 (0)
2014– Chennaiyin FC 0 (0)
National team
1997 France U20 5 (0)
2001–2006 France 40 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 21:18, 3 May 2013 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 21:11, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Mikaël Samy Silvestre (born 9 August 1977) is a French footballer who is currently playing as a defender for Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League.

He began his career at Rennes and went on to Inter Milan before joining Manchester United in 1999. At Old Trafford, he won honours including five Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League, making 361 appearances in all competitions, then joined Arsenal in 2008. Two seasons later he joined Werder Bremen, and spent time at the Portland Timbers in Major League Soccer before signing for Chennaiyin in 2014.

Silvestre has also played for the French national team, earning 40 caps between 2001 and 2006. He represented the nation at two World Cups, UEFA Euro 2004, and two conquests of the FIFA Confederations Cup.[4]

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Born in Chambray-lès-Tours, Silvestre started playing football with the Rennes Football Academy in Brittany and began his league career with the French club in the 1995–96 season. His time at the club helped build his reputation, and in the 1997–98 season was signed by Internazionale. He made 18 league appearances for Inter, as well as six European Cup games.

Manchester United[edit]

Despite an approach from Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier,[5] Silvestre signed for Manchester United for £4 million on 10 September 1999,[6] and made his debut against Liverpool at Anfield the next day. His first season at Manchester United was not exceptional replacing an injured Ronny Johnsen in the centre of defence with Jaap Stam; he appeared to struggle initially to adapt to the English league. By the 2001–02 season, however, Silvestre had established himself in defence ahead of the veteran Denis Irwin, and was proving to be adept both in defence and getting forward. He set up numerous goals for Ruud van Nistelrooy, notably away to Deportivo de La Coruña in a 2–0 towards the end of the season. There was criticism put his way after the Bayer 04 Leverkusen game where he was largely blamed for the late equaliser in the 1–1 draw, but this typified Manchester United's season as a whole, and he was one of their better performers.

During the next season he carried on initially where he left off at the left of Manchester United's back four, but following injury to Rio Ferdinand and the poor performance of an aging Laurent Blanc, he was switched to his favoured position of central defence. This first happened at half-time in the UEFA Champions League match away in Basel on 26 November 2002 when the team were 1–0 down and struggling with a young John O'Shea looking shaky at the heart of the defence. Silvestre and O'Shea were switched for the second half and the team immediately looked more solid defensively. From this point Silvestre forged a successful partnership mid-season with Wes Brown at the heart of the defence until Ferdinand's return, looking calm and assured. Using his pace to good effect, while continuing to provide goals with his accurate diagonal balls.

The beginning of the 2003–04 season saw Silvestre paired with Ferdinand in the centre of the team's defence. However, this was cut short following Ferdinand's eight month ban for missing a drug test. In the latter half of this season when being paired with an unfit Wes Brown, Manchester United's defence proved to be rather less secure and both Brown and Silvestre were at fault for numerous goals and despite winning the FA Cup with a 3–0 victory over Millwall, this uncertainty at the heart of the defence was to continue into the start of the 2004–05 season.

Competition for places grew significantly during the January transfer window in 2006 with the signings of Nemanja Vidić and Patrice Evra. Although both struggled to adapt initially, both have since gone on to establish themselves as firm fan favourites and key members of the Manchester United squad. Following the partnership of Vidić and Ferdinand at the heart of the defence, and Evra's holding of the left-back position, Silvestre found it more difficult to secure a place in the Manchester United starting line-up. However, his form improved toward the end of the season. He admitted that he was given the option to leave during the January transfer window during 2006, with an opportunity to join former Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier at Lyon. He did however decide to stay and fight for his place at United.

On 11 August 2006, his loyalty to the club was rewarded with a new contract extending his stay at the club until at least 2009. Alex Ferguson commented: "Mikael has been an important member of the squad for seven years now. His experience at the Club will help the younger players as they develop and he has a central role to play in the first team."

He started the 2006–07 season against Watford, scoring a goal, his first away goal for United, to give United the lead, and then 15 minutes later making a defensive error to aid their equaliser. He was starting to reassert himself in the left-back role when he broke a metatarsal in a 1–0 defeat to Arsenal. After recovering and playing several games, he dislocated his shoulder in a Champions League win against Lille OSC, meaning he was unable to play for the rest of the season.[7] He did however win his fourth Premier League winner's medal that season as United won the league for the first time since 2003.

Silvestre revealed that in the summer of 2007 he turned down the opportunity to sign for Newcastle United, because he refused to play in the same side as Joey Barton (who attacked Silvestre's close friend Ousmane Dabo).[8] With Gabriel Heinze moving to Real Madrid, Silvestre was set to battle Evra for the starting left-back spot in the first eleven at Manchester United in the 2007–08 season. On 15 September, however, Silvestre was stretchered off with knee ligament damage that would rule him out for the rest of the season. On 24 September, Ferguson revealed that: "I'm sure Mikael will be back in March." He also said, "we had him operated on in France last week and it all went well. It was pleasing to see there was no further damage other than the cruciate ligament. That's a big bonus because sometimes there can be cartilage problems that also come along."

On 20 March, Silvestre made his comeback in the Manchester United reserves in a 4–1 win over Manchester City.[9][10]

On 9 April 2008, Silvestre made his first start for seven months in a Champions League quarter-final match versus Roma.[11]


Silvestre training before a match.

A transfer to Bordeaux was mooted in the summer of 2008. However, it is believed that Silvestre turned the transfer down to see out the remaining year of his contract, and potentially receive a testimonial match at the end of the 2008–09 season.[12] He received an offer to join Manchester City from manager Mark Hughes and was set to join them; however, during the medical examination, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger called to offer Silvestre a transfer to his club. Given the strong French presence at Arsenal, the rivalry between Manchester United and Manchester City, and the fact that Manchester City were not yet a force in English football, Silvestre opted to join the London club.[5]

The transfer to Arsenal was completed for an undisclosed fee on 20 August 2008, with Silvestre signing a two-year contract.[13] The transfer made Silvestre the first player to transfer directly between Manchester United and Arsenal since Viv Anderson (who moved in the opposite direction) in 1987, and the first player to move from United to Arsenal since Brian Kidd in 1974. He was given the number 18 shirt, last worn by Pascal Cygan.

Silvestre made his debut for the club in a 3–1 victory over Everton on 18 October 2008, his 250th game in English football. In his first Champions League game for Arsenal, against Turkish side Fenerbahçe, he scored an own goal as Arsenal won 5–2. His first Premiership goal for Arsenal came against Tottenham Hotspur on 29 October 2008, but Silvestre and 2 others were criticised by manager Arsène Wenger after the match ended in a 4–4 draw.[14] On 8 November 2008, Silvestre played his first game against former side Manchester United, in a fixture that Arsenal eventually won 2–1.[15] In April 2010, Silvestre filled in for the absence of Sol Campbell and Alexandre Song against Barcelona, during which match Arsenal conceded a goal which many claim to be the fault of Silvestre. Others also suggest he was largely responsible for the second goal Arsenal conceded against North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, which arguably could have had a dramatic effect on Arsenal's title challenge.[16]

Werder Bremen[edit]

After the 2009–10 season, Silvestre was released by Arsenal and became a free agent. He reportedly had offers from Fulham and Kayserispor, but instead signed for Werder Bremen and said "This is a great new adventure for me, there were other offers, but Thomas Schaaf and Klaus Allofs fascinated me."[17] In October 2010, Silvestre came under criticism from Werder Bremen sporting director Klaus Allofs, who commented that "[Silvestre] has been a disappointment at left back, his playing style is remarkably slow and he makes many mistakes".[18] Despite the criticism, he managed to score his first goal for Bremen, in a magnificent shot which Bremen won against Bundesliga Champions Borussia Dortmund 2–0. By the end of the season, he made 26 league appearances, scoring a single league goal. He was released at the end of the 2011–12 season. He was offered a trial at English club West Ham United in September 2012.[19] In October 2012, Silvestre began training with his former club, Manchester United, in order to maintain his fitness in the hope of finding a new club. Since then, he received an offer from Indian club Dodsal F.C., with a view to joining them in time for their new season in January 2013.[5]

Portland Timbers[edit]

He spent time on trial with MLS Side Portland Timbers ahead of the 2013 MLS campaign, and then moved to trial with fellow Cascadia region Major League Soccer side Seattle Sounders FC. On February 19, 2013, it was announced that Silvestre had signed a two-year deal with Portland.[20] Portland Timbers obtained Silvestre's MLS discovery rights from Seattle Sounders FC in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2014 MLS Supplemental Draft and a conditional 2015 draft pick.[21]

On May 2, 2013, Silvestre tore his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a game against the New England Revolution. He was expected to miss the rest of the season.[22] Silvestre subsequently had surgery to repair the damage, and continues his recovery in Portland.[23] Despite his injury, Silvestre has remained a vocal and engaged member of the team off the field and on social media.

Silvestre was released by Portland on January 28, 2014.[24]

Chennaiyin FC[edit]

On 20 September 2014, Silvestre joined newly formed Indian Super League side Chennaiyin FC for four months.[25][26] He started in their first match on 15 October 2014, a 2–1 victory at FC Goa.[27]

International career[edit]

Silvestre was previously a member of French junior team at the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship. He earned his first senior cap for France on 27 February 2001 in a friendly against Germany that ended in a 1–0 win. He won the Confederations Cup both in 2001 and 2003 with France. However, he received criticism for his performance at UEFA Euro 2004, where he gave away penalties to both England and Croatia, before France were knocked out by Greece in the quarter-finals.

Silvestre also played one game in the French squad that made the final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but has not played since the tournament. He was recalled by Raymond Domenech for the 19 November 2008 friendly against Uruguay, but was an unused substitute. Silvestre reportedly said he was 'frustrated' by his lack of playing time for France. Raymond Domenech said he was in contention for a place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but he did not get a place. When Laurent Blanc became the new manager of France, he said that Silvestre was 'too old' to play at international level again. However, he was in the squad for a friendly against Romania in 2011, but was an unused substitute.

Career statistics[edit]

Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Other[28] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Rennes 1995–96 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
1996–97 16 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 18 0
1997–98 32 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 35 0
Total 49 0 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 54 0
Internazionale 1998–99 18 1 7 0 6 0 0 0 31 1
Total 18 1 7 0 6 0 0 0 31 1
Manchester United 1999–2000 31 0 0 0 4 0 3 0 38 0
2000–01 30 1 2 0 0 0 14 0 1 0 47 1
2001–02 35 0 2 0 0 0 13 1 1 0 51 1
2002–03 34 1 2 0 5 0 13 0 0 0 54 1
2003–04 34 0 5 1 0 0 6 1 1 1 46 3
2004–05 35 2 4 0 2 0 8 0 1 0 50 2
2005–06 33 1 4 0 5 0 6 0 0 0 48 1
2006–07 14 1 2 0 2 0 3 0 0 0 21 1
2007–08 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 6 0
Total 249 6 21 1 14 0 69 2 8 1 361 10
Arsenal 2008–09 14 2 2 0 1 0 6 0 0 0 23 2
2009–10 12 1 2 0 3 0 3 0 0 0 20 1
Total 26 3 4 0 4 0 9 0 0 0 43 3
Werder Bremen 2010–11 26 1 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 30 1
2011–12 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Total 27 1 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 31 1
Portland Timbers 2013 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
Total 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
Career total 377 10 36 1 20 0 87 2 8 1 528 14

Statistics accurate as of 30 April 2011[29][30]


Silvestre and his wife, Séverine, have children named Evy, Cléo Mya, and Zack.[31]



Manchester United




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  5. ^ a b c "Sporting spotlight: Mikael Silvestre". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 5 December 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
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  7. ^ "Injured Silvestre out for season". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 14 March 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2008. 
  8. ^ "Silvestre turned down Newcastle to avoid Barton". The Daily Mail (London). 12 August 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2007. 
  9. ^ "Neville steps up comeback". Sky Sports (BSkyB). 20 March 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2008. 
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  11. ^ Thompson, Gemma (9 April 2008). "Report: United 1 Roma 0". ManUtd.com (Manchester United). Retrieved 4 July 2008. 
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  15. ^ McNulty, Phil (8 November 2008). "Arsenal 2–1 Man Utd". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 27 April 2010. 
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  18. ^ Moss, Ben (6 October 2010). "Werder Bremen chief critical of "remarkably slow" Silvestre". Sport.co.uk (Media Corporation). Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
  19. ^ Sky Sports http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11685/8076004/Hammers-look-at-trio |url= missing title (help). 
  20. ^ Arnold, Geoffrey (19 February 2013). "Portland Timbers sign defender Mikael Silvestre". OregonLike (The Oregonian). Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  21. ^ http://www.portlandtimbers.com/news/2013/02/timbers-sign-french-defender-mikael-silvestre
  22. ^ http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2013/05/03/bad-worse-portland-timbers-defender-mikael-silvestre-out-torn-acl
  23. ^ http://www.portlandtimbers.com/news/2013/05/portland-timbers-defender-mikael-silvestre-undergoes-successful-knee-surgery
  24. ^ http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2014/01/27/portland-timbers-veteran-defender-mikael-silvestre-mutually-agree-part-ways
  25. ^ http://www.goal.com/en-india/news/7083/isl/2014/09/20/5118615/silvestre-signs-for-team-chennai?ICID=SP_HN_2
  26. ^ http://thif-live.com/former-french-international-silvestre-joins-chennaiyin-fc/ www.THIF-LIVE.com (The Home Of Indian Football)
  27. ^ Raj, Rohan (15 October 2014). "ISL: Record-breaking Chennaiyin FC romp to 2-1 win over FC Goa". India Today. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Includes other competitive competitions, including the FA Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, FIFA Club World Cup
  29. ^ "16. Mikaël Silvestre". Soccerbase. 2 January 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  30. ^ "Silvestre, Mickaël". National Football Teams. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  31. ^ "Fan frenzy at Hannah Montana premiere as Miley Cyrus flashes her legs in a VERY short dress". The Daily Mail (London). 24 April 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2010. 

External links[edit]