Arsenal signed a then 18 year-old Denilson from Brazil back in 2006, but he has just revealed what led to his return home in 2011.
The midfielder arrived at the club after limited first-team football in his home country, and went onto make 96 appearances in the Premier League.
Some Football Manager fans will strongly remember him as a wonderkid from his early years, and while he featured heavily for our first-team, he never truly reached the potential that was expected of him.
Denilson himself has now claimed that his time at Arsenal was affected by his emotions, and that the people around him were cold like the weather.
“As I stayed at the club for five years and I was two or three years on my own, then I started taking people to stay with me. But even so, I missed the family a lot. I took the people, but emotionally I wasn’t very well. I still managed to stay five years”, Denilson claimed.
“There were a few months left to get the European passport. It was six years at the time to achieve this. I couldn’t take it anymore. It was more the cold weather in England, the people who were cold and emotionally draining me in the country. On the pitch it reflected a lot.
“I was going to be loaned to other clubs. One of the interested parties were Shakhtar. There was also an interest from Sevilla, where a club representative even had lunch at my house, among others. I asked to go back to Brazil. In reality I would go to Fluminense. It wasn’t even to São Paulo. At the last minute things turned around and I ended up going back to São Paulo.”
The midfielder added that he simply ‘couldn’t’ stay at Arsenal despite only needing to stay in Europe for one more season to get his European passport.
“The way it was, I couldn’t stay there anymore. I needed fresh air. One reason was some clubs showing interest in my work. Even so, I wanted to go back to Brazil, which is my country. This would bring me closer to the family. If I stayed I don’t know what could have happened. I believe that if I had stayed longer I would get the European passport. This was a great advantage of looking for other ways.”
“I don’t regret having returned to São Paulo. I leave my gratitude to everyone who fought for me to return to São Paulo. I’m grateful for everything that São Paulo have done for me since I was a child and after my return.”
Arsenal have a responsibility for their younger players, and it certainly sounds like they failed to help Denilson with the transition of leaving his family and home country at such a tender age.
Was I alone in thinking that Denilson never met his potential? Did the club let the former youngster down off the pitch?