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EXCLUSIVE-Denilson: "Arsenal was a great experience in my life"

Denilson said he is still a true fan of the Gunners
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Denilson arrived in London in 2006 at the age of 18 with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger describing him as a cross between Tomas Rosicky and compatriot Gilberto Silva. After sealing a return to Sao Paulo in 2013 the 27 year old said he has removed thoughts of the Selecao from his head and recently made the move to Abu Dhabi. Denilson revealed maintaining a comfortable family life was a key motivation behind his move to the Arabian Gulf League's Al-Wahda.

1. You arrived very young at Arsenal in England. What memories do you have of that experience?

It was a great experience in my life. I left my country of 18 years and one I have known a great time, which also included more complicated situations, especially off the field. I lived alone and the English are rather introverted. With food it was difficult at first, however I eventually adapted as I really tried to focus on the game. This is where Arsene Wenger helped me a lot. I enjoyed myself, I scored a few goals and I had more happy moments than unhappy.

2. You mentioned Arsene Wenger. What kind of coach is he day to day?

For me, he is a great coach. He knows how to discover and give worldwide exposure to the players. When I first arrived no one knew me and gradually I appeared in the team. This is Wenger who turn players like (Cesc) Fabregas, into the world class player of today. Wenger is a professional of high level. I wish to thank him for everything he taught me.

3. Do you have an example of advice he gave you?

He is not a coach who talks a lot. But on the training ground, his advice was invaluable. In Brazil, we are not accustomed to the strict marking. He taught me to obey tactically. Nevertheless, it gave me a lot of freedom in offensive phases. I only have positive things to say about Wenger!

4. You had almost ten years, what would you do differently if you had to return to England?

The first thing would be to take my family with me. It's one of the things I missed whilst at Arsenal. I stayed for a long time in England, and often alone. There are not many Brazilians who arrive to live alone in this situation. The experience with my family would have been different, I will have lived more things.

5. How did Gilberto Silva play an important role in your adaptation?

Yes, Gilberto helped me a lot. It was he who took care of me when I arrived in England. He invited me to his house a lot, I was like a brother. I was very shy at the time and I thought I was bothering him. Gilberto was fundamental in my adaptation to London.

6. You played with Thierry Henry. What do you think of him?

Thierry Henry made me feel very welcome. We often played together at the console. He's a nice guy, a true legend of football.

7. Do you continue to follow the matches of Arsenal?

I watch all the matches of Arsenal. There are many players in the team I have known. I am a true fan of the Gunners! Not especially for the team but for Wenger. I really hope he wins the Premier League this season as it's been too long since Arsenal have won the title.

8. What do you think of the current team?

I find that the team is very good and Wenger knows how to set up his teams. Normally the English league requires a lot of physical contact. But Arsenal, with Barca and Bayern with Guardiola, is the team that plays the best football.

9. Dunga surprised many, including the defender Gabriel Paulista for two friendlies in September. What can you say about this player?

I do not know him well. I followed his arrival at Arsenal but he has not played much. I think Dunga has been following him for some time. But if he was called up, that means he has qualities. I hope everything will go well for him.

10. Another player will return in Seleção: Lucas, you've rubbed shoulders in São Paulo. What can you tell us about him?

Nothing special. We played together at São Paulo FC, he is a fast player who deserves to go to the Seleção. It is a good time at PSG he scored on the first day.

11. You left São Paulo FC for the Arab world at the age of 27 years. Have you thought about the Seleção in making your choice?

All players dream of Brazilian Seleção. During the 2008-2009 season, I was very fit and played with 42 games with Arsenal. I really thought the coach would think well of me but this was not the case. Last year with São Paulo, I played very well but nobody called me. There are certain phases in life when we must think about our future and the future of our loved ones. I signed here for financial reasons but also for my son to live abroad. I removed the Seleção from my head.


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