Former Arsenal midfielder Denilson opened in a revealing interview about how he struggled with loneliness and isolation during his time at the club.
The Brazilian was officially listed at Emirates Stadium for seven years, but has spent the last two of those in his home country after joining Sao Paulo on loan. He would mutually terminate his contract with Arsenal, signing a four-year deal to return to Brazil permanently.
Speaking to FourFourTwo, Denilson has now opened up about his experience playing in England, frankly explaining how he struggled to adjust to life in London – largely because he didn’t have a friends or family with him after sealing a £ 3.5million move. at Arsenal at just 18.
“Coming home after practice was good, but after one game I had just played in front of 60,000 fans who were cheering me on,” said Denilson. “I would take a shower at the stadium and go home, but once I got there, I found myself alone.
“I was logging into MSN Messenger hoping to speak to someone, to see if anyone had watched my game, but there was no one online.”
“This kind of thing started to affect me, as you think to yourself, ‘The game is over, I want to talk to someone, but there’s no one around.’ People only see us as professionals, but they forget that we are also human beings.
He went on to reveal how his compatriot Gilberto Silva had unwittingly become a role model for him and that he spent time with his family to alleviate some of the pain of being so often alone. Despite this, he felt unable to fully confide in Gilberto as he didn’t want to burden the defensive midfielder with his problems – even leading him to spend a Christmas alone.
“Some days I felt good and wanted to go for a walk in the afternoon,” he continued. “But then you see the weather – it was depressing and you give up. I thought, “Dear God, is this my life?” You have no one to talk to, no one online to chat with and discuss things other than football. “
“I struggled with it a lot, but I didn’t mention it to anyone. I kept everything for myself. I never told Gilberto Silva, for example. He often invited me to his house, but I never felt comfortable. I thought, “He has his own life, his wife and children. I don’t want to continue to bother him ”.”
“One Christmas, he invited me and I didn’t go. I stayed locked up at home, alone, because I didn’t want to disturb him.
Denilson has played 153 times for Arsenal in all competitions, making 96 Premier League appearances. He failed to win a trophy under Arsene Wenger, but was a two-time League Cup finalist – losing to a brace from Chelsea’s Didier Drogba in 2007, before missing in 2011 against Birmingham after a calamitous confusion between Wojciech. Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny allowed Obafemi Martins to score a winner at the last breath.