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“I thought, ‘Dear God, is this my life?’” Former Arsenal midfielder Denilson remembers crippling loneliness which ruined his Gunners career

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Former Arsenal midfielder Denilson has revealed that he suffered from awful loneliness after his move to the Gunners in 2006 - so much so that he once spent Christmas alone.

Denilson was a £3.5m purchase when Arsene Wenger's side moved to the Emirates Stadium. The Brazilian moved over to England alone, however, at the age of 18 - and speaking in the February issue of FourFourTwo, available in shops and online now (opens in new tab), he says that he felt uncomfortable asking for help from team-mate and countryman Gilberto Silva.

“Going home after training was fine, but after a game, I’d just played in front of 60,000 fans cheering for me,” Denilson recalled. “I’d have a shower at the stadium and go home, but once I got there I found myself alone.”

“I’d log on to MSN Messenger hoping to speak to someone, to see if anyone had watched my game, but there was no one online.”


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“That sort of thing started to affect me, as you think to yourself, ‘The match is over, I want to talk to someone, but there’s no one around’. People only see us as professionals, but they forget we’re also human beings.”

Denilson never won a trophy at Arsenal, finishing as a runner-up in the League Cup in 2007 and 2011. Often compared to fellow midfielder Gilberto, he says that the World Cup winner was a big role model for him - but that he didn't even confide in him over his crippling loneliness.

“Some days, I was feeling all right and wanted to go for a walk in the afternoon,” the midfielder continued. “But then you see the weather – it was depressing and you give up. I thought, ‘Dear God, is this my life?’ You don’t have anyone to talk to, no one online to chat to and discuss stuff other than football.”

“I struggled a lot with that but didn’t mention it to anyone. I kept it all to 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 his kids. I don’t want to keep bothering him’.”

“One Christmas, he invited me and I didn’t go. I stayed locked up at home, alone, as I didn’t want to inconvenience him.”

The new issue of FourFourTwo is out now and available to buy online (opens in new tab).

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