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

Denilson
(Image credit: Getty)

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).

While you’re here, subscribe to FourFourTwo and get three copies of the magazine for just £3 (opens in new tab). It’s the perfect gift idea for anybody who loves football (including yourself)...

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