David Luiz says he took a pay cut to return to Chelsea, but the defender believes his decision has been vindicated as the Blues chase a Premier League and FA Cup double on Saturday.
The 30-year-old left Stamford Bridge in June 2014 in a £50million move to Paris St Germain, after winning the Champions League and FA Cup in 2012 and the Europa League a year later with Chelsea.
Luiz, who claimed two domestic trebles with PSG, returned late in last summer’s transfer window in a surprise move which has seen him prove his detractors wrong.
The Brazilian has played a key role in Chelsea reclaiming the Premier League title – his first English championship – after a 10th-placed finish last term.
And now the Blues are seeking to win Saturday’s FA Cup final with Arsenal to complete Antonio Conte’s first season as head coach with the double.
Luiz described his return to Chelsea in a reported £32m deal two years after leaving as “a risk”, having been unable to shed the ‘PlayStation’ footballer image coined by Gary Neville. Neville has revised his thoughts and lauded the Brazilian this season.
Luiz said: “I went to Paris for two years and won all the titles in France.
“I had a great life. I had everything in Paris and then I took a risk to come back to one country that was not that happy with me.
“That’s why it was a risk. And I love the risk. In your life if you don’t take a risk you’re not going to taste something new. Not just in your professional life, I think it’s every day.
“I cut my salary to come back here. But it’s okay. God has given me a lot so I’m very happy with this.
“I don’t like to stay always with the easy life so that’s why I took the risk, and today I am very happy. It was the right decision.”
After two years in Paris, Luiz is a more mature performer on the field, leaving the criticisms of his positional discipline and concentration firmly in the past.
Luiz’s role in the centre of Conte’s three-man defence is integral.
The switch to a 3-4-3 formation, which Conte has highlighted as a pivotal point in Chelsea’s season, came during the second half of September’s 3-0 loss at Arsenal.
“Conte is a great person, a great character and he’s passionate – he loves football,” Luiz added.
“The day I arrived here we talked together and he tried to explain his philosophy to play football.
“He said to me: ‘You are the player I want in my team and to improve my team’. And then I said to him: ‘I’m going to work hard for you and for the team’. And that’s it.”
Luiz has a FA Cup winners’ medal, but he missed the 2012 final with a hamstring injury before returning as Chelsea lifted the European Cup.
He said: “I don’t want to miss this one. I want to play, I want to try to give my best for the team.”