Big hair, big smile, big heart, huge talent. On the beaches of Bahia they called him "Spaghetti Head". In Lisbon he was "Sideshow Bob" from The Simpsons. A few weeks at Chelsea has reworked the moniker to "Valderrama", in reference to the great Colombian midfielder.
If that crown of tight tangled curls helps David Luiz attract attention, his football sustains the focus. A first Premier League start was man-of-the-match material. A perfectly timed interception to dispossess a Fulham striker, two long strides forward and a divine 65-yard pass to place Fernando Torres on goal.
The relish of a block tackle that sends Clint Dempsey toppling backwards. The sheer gymnastic invention of a bicycle-kick cross from the byline as his new team chases three points.
Then you sit down and chat with David Luiz ("Here, they always call me by my last name, but it's David Luiz, please") and realise that everything about this 23-year-old Brazilian is just that little bit different. That little bit special.
So keen is he to do this first exclusive newspaper interview since joining the club that he pushes Chelsea for it to go ahead. He offers two hours of long, thoughtful answers, then worries that there might be insufficient material for the article. Halfway through the interview comes an explanation of this value he places on communication.
"I went to do an autograph session at Stamford Bridge yesterday," David Luiz said. "I really enjoyed that. I didn't want to feel like a robot signing autographs and smiling for pictures, I was trying to give them more. Even without speaking the language; with gestures and trying to interact a bit more. Otherwise, you could just put a dummy up there.
"Everyone likes to be treated well. It doesn't matter their profession, culture, or nationality. You look to the side of you, and it's very clear in Brazil. People are in extreme difficulties but still smiling. Why would I not smile? I have to smile always.
"I think effort is what someone who has to lift bags of concrete from seven in the morning until seven at night does. Working for a minimum wage and struggling to raise four children.
"I have this privilege because I am 'David Luiz'. I'm the same as any other person, I'm a human being. But we footballers have this kind of magical ability to touch people whose hearts are obstructed, or the young people who don't have hope for their life, who think they're not going to achieve anything. Yes, they will. They just have to be determined, and act with their heart. And remember that one always needs another. No one gets anywhere by themselves. I never got here by myself, I got here with the help of a lot of people."
His parents foremost among them. Ask David Luiz about his idol as a boyhood footballer and he immediately cites his father, Ladislau - a midfielder with Atletico Mineiro, who left the professional game at 20 to teach at a secondary school. His mother, Regina, also a teacher, delivered one particularly significant moment of support.
Raised in the hard Sao Paulo satellite town of Diadema, the 14-year-old David Luiz had spent five seasons skipping fares on his three-bus ride into training at Sao Paulo FC when the club informed him that he would never grow large enough to play professionally. Refusing to succumb to rejection, the youngster's search for a new home involved a 2,000km relocation to Esporte Club Vitoria in Bahia on Brazil's north-east coast.
Not only did Regina sanction the extraordinary move, she put the family in debt to fund it.
"I went to Bahia by myself," David Luiz said. "I asked my mum to buy me a plane ticket as it was too far by bus, nearly 40 hours. My mum wasn't well off and she paid for it in 30 instalments. But when the son asks his mother for something she does it.
"I promised one day I would pay her back and this was another sort of stimulation for my determination; one of the things I'd remember when going through difficult times. I'd say: 'Come on you can't stop now, because you have this debt to your mother you have to make good.' I've always approached my life as if I was the only one who could change the life of my family."
He credits the hardships of living far from home for his precocious maturity. Converted from attacking midfielder to a central defender, he made Vitoria's first team by 18 as he grew to 1.85m, helping them out of Brazil's third division and gaining the attention of Benfica, Portugal's grandest club.
Acquired on a six-month loan, he was forced to wait six weeks before making a particularly inauspicious debut early in 2007.
"It was the Uefa Cup against PSG in Paris. A big game in a great stadium. After 36 minutes Luisao got injured and I came on. Benfica were 1-0 up and within five minutes it was 2-1 to Paris with a mistake by me. I thought: 'Damn, I'm going back to Brazil. They're going to take me off at half time and tomorrow I'll be packing my bags.'"
Aggravating the problem, the new boy had instructed fellow centre-back Anderson, a full Brazil international, to switch from the left to the right of defence, to the bewilderment of Benfica's coach.
"In the changing room at half time everyone was looking at me, some with pity, others anger. I just focused internally, asking God to give me calm and tranquillity. 'I'm going to have the character to go back out and show what I am.' I went back, had an excellent second half and the next game I was in the starting line-up. From the game after that I never left the team again."
The tale captures the combination of confidence and risk-taking that saw David Luiz elected Portugal's best footballer in his third, title-winning, season there.
One Benfica coach, Quique Sanchez Florez, likened his young charge to Paulo Maldini; Carlo Ancelotti has identified his readiness to make plays from defensive areas as an essential attribute for Chelsea. The €25 million (Dh126m) defender's comfort on the ball is such that observers struggle to identify his stronger foot.
"I am right-footed, but always played on the left," he said. "Since I was young I always tried to improve the left foot and eventually it became better than the right. I would look down and say 'You are the same, why can't you work the same?' I think it's just a question of motor skills, training every day, insisting. Today it helps me play in more positions. It's a weapon I have as a player."
He regards his embattled manager simply as "one of the best in the world", insisting the environment he arrived in this month is one devoid of any special pressure.
"It is normal for a big team wherever you are. The more they talk the more expectation there is. If Ancelotti wasn't Ancelotti they wouldn't be talking about him. People know that Chelsea fight for titles and it will always be like that. Some are criticising or saying things, but inside Chelsea we have a very good group, where everyone is working with one objective. Things will come naturally. Winning or losing, the greatness exists inside this club and I'm grateful to be part of it."
He talks of Chelsea as the ideal platform to develop further as an athlete. The determination and desire to succeed is compelling, yet when David Luiz is asked about his ambitions that special sense of perspective smiles back to the surface.
"Professional objectives and personal objectives," he said. "To have a family and many children, and to be able to pass on everything that I learnt from my parents. And without a doubt I have the dream to be admired not just as footballer but as a person. For me that's worth a lot."
Chelsea v Man Utd, midnight Tuesday, Abu Dhabi Sports 5