Gilberto Wore Shinpads to Training Recalls Arsenal Invincible Lauren
Former Arsenal right-back Lauren says that teammate Gilberto Silva was so surprised by the intensity of training sessions with the team that he took to wearing shinpads. The Brazilian joined the club in the summer of 2002 after winning the World Cup with his country.
Gilberto went on to become a club legend in North London, winning a league title and 2 FA Cups in a 6 year spell, where his partnership with Patrick Vieira in central midfield became a key part of a dominant Arsenal side. Play at the best american online casino from this list of US friendly online casinos.
But upon arriving from Atlético Mineiro in 2002, he was initially taken aback by the intensity of training sessions, with competitive teammates such as Vieira, Martin Keown, Dennis Bergkamp, Sol Campbell, Freddie Ljungberg and Lauren.
Lauren, who played at right-back in that side, recalled an incident shortly after Gilberto’s arrival that shocked the Brazilian, “I remember there was a challenge by Martin Keown on Rami Shaaban – his own goalkeeper – and, unfortunately, he broke his leg.
“I remember Gilberto Silva was there and he came up to me and said: “Aqui, estan todos locos?” (“Are they all crazy here”?) The next day, and for every single training session after that, Gilberto wore shin pads – just in case,” he told BBC Sport.
Lauren says that sense of competitiveness permeated training but that the team were good friends who demanded a lot from each other during every session. “They were good people,” he continued. “On the training ground, everyone wanted to be the best – when they picked two sides, no-one wanted to be the referee.
“It was competitive with any discussion about anything – we were arguing about everything. Thierry Henry was a pain in the backside; it was unbelievable.” Arsenal made history during the 2003-04 season by winning the league title without losing a game. Their unbeaten run eventually stretched to 49 league games, with Gilberto playing in 45 of them.
Nicknamed ‘The Invisible Wall’, Gilberto came to prominence during the 2002 World Cup for his quietly effective displays in front of the defence. After playing every minute of Brazil’s World Cup triumph in 2002, former Seleção player and renowned journalist Tostão famously paid tribute to Gilberto, remarking, “He carried the piano for Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho to play their tunes on.”
Gilberto joined Arsenal that summer after Gunners Chief Executive David Dein travelled to Belo Horizonte to talk to Atlético and refused to take no for an answer. He joined the club for £4.5m, but left for Panathinaikos in 2008 after losing his place in the team to Mathieu Flamini. Gilberto played for Panathinaikos for 3 years, before returning to Brazil for spells with Grêmio and he won the 2013 Copa Libertadores with Atlético. Gilberto had to retire in early 2014 due to a meniscus injury.