It is through this dedication to football, along with his natural talent, that Dias has earned himself a reputation as one of the best defenders in the game, winning the Premier League twice with Manchester City and now playing in the 2022 World Cup with Portugal.
“It will definitely be a special moment,” he says, looking forward to the tournament.
“I had a chance to get to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. And I definitely felt a different perspective, because it’s one thing to look at it from the outside, you know how big it is, but then to experience it and be there, it’s quite another.
“As a player, this is probably the biggest [trophy] you can reach. Honestly, it’s not fair to put into words the feeling you should have after you’ve done it.”
Dias was named to the Portugal squad in 2018, but the then 21-year-old was injured and did not feature in any matches.
This time he will be a key player Choice as he manages a group that includes Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea, aiming to celebrate what will likely be the last World Cup for his “golden generation”.
Pepe is 39, João Moutinho is 36, and, of course, Portugal’s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is 37, his strength is waning, and his club career is problematic. his departure from Manchester United.
“On the first day that I met [Ronaldo]actually trained with him, he had just won the Champions League,” recalls Diaz.
“I still remember that day and we trained as usual. And then you just see why he was where he was. You know how he did everything, every single thing, the details, the dedication.”
Diaz conveys the same spirit. His friend and teammate in City and Portugal, Bernardo Silva, told CNN Sport that “he’s 100% like football”, always working for the team and trying to help his teammates.
“Football is everything to me,” says Diaz. “This is life. This is happiness. He deals with everything from being perfect to being the worst in the world, dealing with all kinds of emotions.
“It prepares my future, prepares one day to start a family. I myself am getting better. Like many other professions, but for me football is a great example of life, because football has everything.”
Despite being only 25 years old, Diaz is already building a legacy at the Etihad Stadium, proving to be a key player in Manchester City’s all-conquering team.
After his first season at the club in 2020/21, he won several individual awards – Premier League Player of the Season, Football Writer’s Player of the Year and Etihad Player of the Season – and was hailed as part of City’s leadership group.
“In the end, I think it all depends on what is deep inside you, what is deep in your head, in your subconscious, on what you do just because these are the other things that you want to do” he says.
But family, like football, is everything to Diaz, he says, later trying to replicate his mom’s recipe. duck rice – Portuguese rice dish with duck – with his brother.
“You can achieve all the success in the world alone,” he adds. “But if you have no one to share with, why would you?”